Combined Decongestive Therapy is the Gold Standard for Lympedema Management. Here’s why:
Those who suffer with primary or secondary lymphedema know that sometimes, for whatever reason, there’ll be a ‘blow-out’ of the affected limb, meaning it will swell. As a result, your compression garment won’t fit. For those who suffer this condition, it’s tempting to abandon your compression garment at this point and just ‘let it all hang out’ for a while. The problem is that we’re talking about a high protein edema, which attracts more fluid, which in turn brings more protein into your tissue. Without therapy and compression, the swelling will just get worse, eventually leading to fibrosis, infection and irreversible disfigurement. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be to treat.
So what’s the Best way to deal with a Lymphedema Blow-Out ?
Firstly, it’s important to reduce the size of the limb as much as possible to avoid the lymphedema becoming worse. We use a special multi-layer compression bandaging system after lymphatic drainage in a series of treatments to take down the swelling and encourage new lymph flow. During this ‘reduction phase’ of therapy, the patient will do special breathing exercises at home to help ‘pump’ fluids away from the affected area. Good skin care is also necessary, as the skin is the first line of defense against infection. Now is the time to do away with those cracked heals ! After the reduction phase is complete, the patient can go back to wearing their compression garment or be fitted for a new one. Regular lymphatic drainage is recommended for those living with lymphedema, as it helps to flush away excess fluids and proteins which might otherwise accumulate and cause problems.
What is a Maintenance Compression Garment and Why is it so Important ?
With lymphedema, veins and lymph vessels can be weak or damaged. Compression garments help to stop excess fluid ‘leaking’ out of blood vessels (and into the tissue) as well as help lymph vessels to take up excess fluid and deposit it back to the venous system. A garment of this kind should never make swelling worse, cut off circulation or direct fluid away from the heart. It should be comfortable enough to wear as required, but not so comfortable that it won’t have an effect. Fingers and toes should be a healthy pink colour at all times and if a garment causes pain – take it off and see your doctor. Compression garments are expensive because they’re highly specialised and often tailored to fit. It can be up to a month’s wait for one to be made. So be sure to allow for the lag if you plan on taking a new garment away on your next holiday ! The quicker you’re treated for a ‘blow-out’, the better the chances will be that you won’t need a new garment fitted. That’s why it pays to deal with excessive swelling right away !
The Four Pillars of Combined Decongestive Therapy
All in all, there are four main ‘pillars’ which make up combined decongestive therapy:
- lymphatic drainage
- compression bandaging
- skin care
- breathing exercises
This combination approach to treating lymphedema ensures the best support for lymphatic activity, reducing swelling and the risk of infection and skin complications.
Call massage.yeah, Benowa to book your combined decongestive therapy program. Pensioner rates apply.