How to Treat Lymphedema
Lymphedema can develop when lymph nodes are removed, typically during cancer treatment. Without lymph nodes to drain bacteria and viruses, fluid may accrue in the affected leg or arm, resulting in lymphedema. Medications like tamoxifen, radiation therapy, and lymph nodes that are injured, can cause secondary lymphedema. In some cases, primary lymphedema may exist at birth and develop during puberty or adulthood.
Symptoms of lymphedema are typified by a swollen feeling. If your rings, bracelets, clothes, or wristwatch feel tight on your body, this could be a sign of lymphedema. You may also have a feeling of heaviness in your arms or legs and diminished flexibility in your ankles, hands, and wrists.
Treatment of lymphedema is dependent on the cause. For your specific treatment compression garments, fluid drainage, or a change in diet or skin care may be required. Elevating the swollen arm or leg can assist in drainage of the lymph fluid from the affected area. When possible, rest and elevate the swollen leg or arm on a comfortable area and put it above the level of your heart. Avoid unneeded pressure on your groin area or armpit. Be mindful to not elevate a limb without ample support, as this will enhance swelling. Mild exercise can also assist in reducing swelling, but be sure to bind the affected area.
If you have had lymph node surgery or radiation treatment, there are specific measures you can take to avoid lymphedema and keep it under control. First, contact your doctor immediately if redness, pain, or additional swelling develop in your food, arm, or leg. Speak with your doctor about how to handle insect bites, scratches or any injury. When outdoors, use insect repellent and sunscreen to protect against bug bites and UV rays. If you experience tightness or swelling in your feet, arms, or legs, contact your doctor promptly.
If you have any of the symptoms of lymphedema, contact the Reeder Vein Institute today. You can reach us at 972-566-3040. We look forward to helping you address your questions and concerns.