Compression therapy is needed in the treatment of Lymphedema. An impaired lymphatic system leads to the swelling of a patient’s limbs due to fluid retention and tissue swelling. Lymphedema also affects more than the extremities; it can also affect the face, neck, genitalia, and scrotum.
Causes of Lymphedema
There are two forms of Lymphedema: hereditary and acquired.
It originates from a defect in the lymphatic system at birth. Studies show that 5 to 10% of patients that suffer from Lymphedema have it from birth.
Secondary Lymphedema develops when the lymphatic tissues are unable to perform their normal function. Lymphedema can occur from infections that harm or damage the immune system. This includes those caused by insect bites, severe wounds, or burns. Being morbidly obese, undergoing surgery, suffering a severe injury, or being exposed to cancer radiation may also bring up the disease. Up to 94.9% of lymphedema patients may have secondary Lymphedema.
Factors that may promote the onset of Lymphedema
- Surgery, such as those used to treat cancer
- Trauma that could harm the system
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer
- Severe defects of the skin
- A vein condition
- A swelling on the limbs caused by edema or congestion
- Tightness in the chest or chest pains
- Skin that is thick or firm depending on the lymphedema stage
- Infections of the skin that don’t go away
- Stemmer’s sign is positive when a skin fold at the hinge of the second toe and middle finger or any other swollen part of the body cannot squeeze or grasp. The condition indicates advanced Lymphedema.
Lymphedema progresses through three distinct stages.
- Stage 0
There is no visible swelling despite reduced lymphatic transport and modest changes in tissue composition. It may take months or even years for edema to manifest.
- Stage I
The fluid accumulation in the afflicted limb decreases during this stage once it elevates. There is an indentation where the damage occurred that disappears when the region is raised above.
- Stage II
Stage II denotes that elevating the limbs alone rarely helps minimize tissue edema. Pitting begins to be evident. The limb continues pitting as fibrosis develops and extra inner fat forms.
Stage III lymphatic elephantiasis characterizes by trophic dermis changes like acanthosis, thickness changes, fat depositions, and overgrowths.
Complex Decongestive Treatment
CDT largely depends on Manual lymphatic drainage and Compression Therapy.
Manual lymphatic drainage is a technique used to increase lymph flow by applying light, rhythmic pressure and a series of circular motions.
- Reduced Phase 1
During the initial stage of CDT treatment, the focus is on reducing fluid build-up. Changing multi-layered bandaging performed by medical practitioners is normal for medical compression at this stage. Depending on the severity, the first CDT stage might last anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks. Taking care of your skin is just as important.
- Step Two: Maintenance
The second stage of CPD is the maintenance phase, and its primary objective is to preserve and improve upon the volume decrease attained in the initial stage. Compression therapy using flat-knit compression garments, skin treatment, physical workouts, and as many repetitions of mechanical lymphatic drainage as necessary as the mainstays of medical care.
Compression Therapy is Essential
Lymphedema compression therapy incorporates several different items. During the initial stage of CDT, the primary focus is on minimizing limb volume by using inelastic multilayer bandages. They can effectively treat even atypically formed limbs thanks to the intense compression they provide.
In the maintenance stage of lymphedema treatment, flat-knit compression stockings are the mainstay of treatment. If your limb volume is already stable, you should only apply this compression type. Flat-knit compression stockings can also help extremely shaped legs.
It is possible to employ wraps with hooks-and-loops shutters or brassiere hooks during the initial and secondary stages of CDT treatment. Wraps can be quickly put on or taken off. To accommodate the differences in limb volume, there is adjustments to provide a range of compression levels.
Circular-knit compression hosiery employs when the first phases of Lymphedema have not reached full capacity.
Using techniques like intermittent pneumatic compression to achieve the same results as manual lymphatic drainage. Truncal drainage should only utilize in cooperation with MLD. During IPC therapy, confining patients to their seats by immovable equipment occurs.
Importance of a Skincare Routine
When lymph flow is constantly disrupted, protein-rich fluid accumulates in soft tissue, causing swelling and inflammation. In addition, the lymph system’s impairment reduces the immune system’s efficiency.
Any cut, scrape, or abrasion on your arms or legs puts you at risk for infection and severe inflammation. As such, taking care of your skin’s health and any skin concerns will help prevent infections.
- Use compression garments when recommended by a physician.
- Take care to shield the hurt limb. Avoid further injury to the injured limb, and take steps against insect bites and sunburns by using insect repellent and sunscreen.
- If feasible, the injured limb should not undergo medical treatments, including blood tests and immunizations.
- Stretching, working out, and eating healthy are all recommended. Do not engage in physical activity until you fully recover from any incision or treatment you may have had.
- Avoid exposing the injured limb to excessive temperatures.
- Raise your limbs above your heart so that gravity can aid in lymph drainage.
- If you wear a blood pressure cuff on your arm, or tight clothing or jewelry on your leg, you could feel discomfort. Compression gear helps the body in removing fluids. Tight clothing that digs in at the wrong spots could hinder drainage.
- Always wash and moisturize your leg or arm. Take special care of your nails and skin. Always look for skin changes or cuts that can lead to an infection. Wear shoes at all times to keep your feet safe.
- Eat a healthy diet to keep your weight where it should be. Managing your body weight can lessen the severity of your symptoms.
- Drinking lots of water helps supports healthy kidney function, which is essential for eliminating excess water, protein, and other waste products.
The best way to reduce fluid retention is to eat less salt. Simple arm and leg motions are helpful, especially when paired with external limb compression and other motions from daily life. This includes walking, yoga, cycling, and stair climbing.