What is lymphedema?
Impairment of the lymph transport system of the body, which causes
the accumulation (stagnation) of protein rich fluid in the interstitium, protein draws fluid into the interstitial spaces,
this results in the tissue swelling.
are two kinds of edema primary and secondary.
edema, basically is a condition a person is born with. It may manifest at birth and anytime therafter up on
till the age of about 34 (an inherited condition).
edema is usually acquired after the removal of lymph nodes for biopsy or cancer treatment and also by irradiation
during cancer treatment, there are several other factors that may precipitate lymphedema
Who is affected by Lymphedema?
high risk are persons who undergo axillary lymph node dissection. There is no specific risk factors associated with developing
the condition, however an estimated 12% - 35 % of women develop lymphedema after these procedures.
We have acquired
a segmental bioimpedance analyzer. This equipment is able to detect early signs of lymphedema in the limbs. And for those
recieving treatment allows us to chart your progress.
does a Decongestive Therapist help with the management of lymphedema?
A decongestive therapist helps with the management of lymphedema by:
- Manually moving the lymph and directing its flow to lymph nodes that are functioning.
Extensive knowledge of the body's lymph layout enables the therapist to do this.
- The therapist then applies short or long stretch bandages to the limb, which the
patient wears at all times except when taking a wash.
- The therapist also teaches the patient exercises depending on clients ability. Movement to encourage circulation
is of utmost importance.
to a nutrtionist may be made
the end of every week the patient is measured, this is done so that progress can be graphed.
- At the end of a period of three or four weeks the patient limb
size is measured again, this time for custom compression dressing,
should be noted that there is no cure for Lymphoedema; the goal is to prevent it in patients who are at high risk of developing
it, and for those who already have it to maintain function, prevent spread, and keep the swelling down.
What precautions can be observed?
The affected body part, usually a limb should be protected from trauma, cuts, insect bites, injections, blood
pressure must never be taken on the affecteds limb. The limb should be examined every day for hardening (fibrosis) - indication
of tissue change. Changes in the size of the limb especially after exercise. Elevate the limb if this occurs.
Can it be prevented?
cause of Lymphoedema is unknown, it is therefore difficult to prevent. What we do know is that there are certain people more
susceptible to developing the condition. It is therefore important that people in the high risk group ( mastectomy and lumpectomy
patients) monitor any changes in limb size and consult your physician or a certified decongestive therapist who can
assess your situation and provide advice on what your options are.
there lymphedema support groups?
What are compression garments, how do they help?
Compresson garments are specialised stockings, (garments) that
provide gradient compression. On the leg or arm compression garments deliver pressure from the highest amount of pressure
in the ankle or wrist area to the least amount of pressure where the garment (stocking) terminates. Compression garments are
the standard of care in the management of lymphoedema, chronic venous insufficiency, varicosities (varicose veins). Compression
garments and the muscle pump increase the tissue pressure by helping to push fluid back into the capillaries and preventing
venous and lymph backflow.
Custom compression garments are
also available for abdominal and head oedema.
Our therapists are Vodder certified therapists, The Dr Vodder School is a worldwide trainer of lymphedema
therapists. Dr Emil Vodder is the originator of manual lymphatic drainage. Our therapist train to use the original Dr Vodder
method and they are required to recertify every three years to maintain standards.