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How is lymphoedema treated?
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- Elevating the affected arm or leg can help reduce the swelling. The patient is generally advised to rest the swollen arm or leg supported on a comfortable surface, which is above the level of your heart. One should remember that the arm or leg should not be unsupported; otherwise, it may cause an increase in the swelling. Caution should be exerted that while doing this, there is no pressure on the armpit or groin area.
- Gentle exercise of the affected limb can help reduce swelling. The use of muscles during exercise naturally helps lymph fluid to get pumped, which can reduce swelling. However, exercise is known to increase the blood flow to the muscles being used, which can increase the amount of lymph fluid present there. Hence, it is important to wear compression garments over the affected limb before exercising.
- If the lymphoedema has developed post-surgery, the patient is advised to use the affected arm or leg as normally as possible. Most patients heal in about 4 to 6 weeks post-surgery and can resume normal activities.
- The importance of proper diet cannot be ruled out, as with any other health condition.
- The skin should be taken care of because the underlying swelling makes the skin fragile and prone to cuts and wounds. Any minor cut or inflammation may get infected and take a serious form.
- One of the most important components of treatment is wearing compression garments such as stockings or sleeves.
- The most recent advances are sequential pneumatic compression pump therapy. Specialized compression pumps, combined with an arm or leg garments like compression stockings are designed to simulate the normal pumping action of the lymphatic system