Lymphedema means swelling or inflammation that occurs mostly in the arms or legs. This disease affects one arm or leg most of the time but in rare cases, both legs and arms become affected.This problem is caused due to a blockage in the lymphatic system which is a crucial body part of the immune and circulatory systems. When any type of blockage occurs in this system then it becomes difficult for the lymph fluid to drain out and when this fluid accumulates inside the body then it leads to swelling. This disease is mainly caused due to cancer treatment in which the lymph nodes are removed or damaged.
In case, swelling in the legs or arms is due to clotting of blood then a different course of treatment has to be given. Some anti-biotic can also be used to control the infection but consult your physician prior to taking them as some of them have ill effects on our health.
Although there is no definite cure for this problem but it can be controlled with the help of some therapies and exercise. Check out some of the ways for the treatment of lymphedema.
Physical activity or Exercise:
Some of the exercises which are prescribed by a therapist increase the strength of the affected area. Mild exercises like moving the affected leg or arm in a circular motion improves the state of lymphedema. This is because of the fact that the movement of the affected area moves the stored fluid out from the affected area. Do not think that physical exercise will make you tired as the reality is that it helps to get out of this problem and increase the amount of physical activity gradually.
Massaging the affected body parts make them active. Massage that is used for the treatment of lymphedema is known by the term “manual lymph drainage” as it helps to make the flow of fluid of the blocked lymph node in the right direction. But this technique is not recommended for people who have skin allergies.
In compression, bandages are used to wrap the leg or the arm. By doing so, the fluid circulation of the lymph nodes becomes proper. These low stretch bandages remove the blockage and increases drainage. Take help from a trained therapist to do this as the bandage has to be tied in a particular manner only.
This is one of the most effective therapy also called by the name “pneumatic compression”. In this therapy, the patient has to wear a sleeve around the leg or arm. This sleeve is fastened with an air pump that puffs up the sleeve and gives pressure on the limbs. As a result, the fluid in the lymph nodes goes away from the affected leg or arm and decreases the swelling.
Surgery: The patients who have severe lymphedema are advised for surgery. During the surgery, the excess tissues of the leg or the arm are removed. But the limitation of surgery is that it may decrease the size of the enlarged limb.
Now a day, some special compression garments (stockings) are available that compresses the leg or arm and helps in restoring the right amount of flow in the lymph nodes. This technique is also adopted in patients whose swelling has been subsidized and to keep it under control, one has to wear such garments.
While using any method for the treatment of lymphedema, proper skin care is imperative. Clean the affected area daily after using any type of treatment to keep yourself away from infection.