Lymphedema Effects and Treatment

Author: 4wholeness

Lymphedema is the abnormal collection of protein rich fluid in the body as the result of a compromised or damaged lymphatic system. Many times within oncology treatments lymph nodes are removed as a result of biopsy just to find out where the cancer is actually located and whether it spread. So when lymph nodes are removed, there can often be an accumulation of this protein rich fluid throughout the body that causes swelling. Lymph nodes are actually responsible for filtering and draining the lymphatic fluid throughout the body and lymphatic fluid has a high protein content. So when something happens sometimes things can trigger lymphedema to happen as a result of [tumor - 0:00:51.5] inflammation.

This fluid builds up and the lymph nodes aren't there to carry the fluid away, so that's when we get that accumulation. A lymphedema therapist is trained in the techniques to redirect the fluid that's built up by moving it to other areas of the body and to prevent that reaccumulation of that fluid there are techniques that are used such as compression bandaging and compression garments. Everybody has a different issue, they may have a different amount of lymph nodes removed. They may have other areas that lymph nodes have been removed, so it's knowing how to treat that patient individually but by going by the universal standards of what the compression should and shouldn't be. Also, being part of a lymphedema therapist is helping them with home care, self-care, so they're not completely reliant on a lymphedema therapist so that they can maintain their lymphedema at home and I often help with the caregiver, whether it's the son, the daughter, the partner, the husband in doing self-massage and helping them with bandaging because it's not just about coming into the practice and doing that, they have to do that at home. Then when you've reduced that lymphedema to a place where the body is more comfortable you have a maintenance program, so you're maintaining that to keep it out of the body and for the patient to be vigilant, because lymphedema is a lifelong condition.

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