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Lymphoedema Management & Combined Decongestive Therapy

The Gold Standard Treatment for Acute Lymphoedema.

Combined Decongestive Therapy is the Gold Standard for Lymphoedema Management. Here’s why:

Those who suffer with lymphedema arms, lymphoedema legs or other body parts with lymphoedema know that sometimes, for whatever reason, there’ll be a ‘blow-out’ of the affected area, meaning it will swell to an unmanageable size. As a result, your compression garment won’t fit. For those who suffer with this condition, it’s tempting to abandon your compression garment at this point and just ‘let it all hang out’ for a while. Actually, that is the worst thing you can do.

The Compounding Effect of High Protein Oedema

The problem with lymphoedema is that it’s a high protein oedema. This means that the excess fluid being retained in the tissue has a high concentration of protein molecules because the compromised lymphatic system isn’t removing them fast enough. The protein attracts more fluid into the tissue, which in turn brings yet more protein into your tissue and so on. Without therapy and compression, the swelling will only compound, eventually leading to fibrosis, infection and irreversible disfigurement. Therefore it’s important to respond quickly, as the longer you go without lymphoedema therapy, the more stubborn the problem can become.      

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When to get Combined Decongestive Therapy

So what’s the Best way to deal with a Lymphoedema Blow-Out ?

Firstly, it’s important to reduce the size of the affected area as much as possible to avoid the lymphoedema becoming worse. If you are unsure of the cause of your swelling, you should first check in with your doctor. You’ll then need to find a lymphoedema therapist who can begin the ‘reduction phase’ of your combined decongestive therapy. This will mainly involve getting a series of manual lymphatic drainage treatments which conclude with your therapist applying compression bandaging to the effected area. The bandaging will last up to a few days after which it’ll be time for another treatment and bandaging. This process continues until the area is reduced to your satisfaction. We normally use the Rosidal TCS 2-layer self-adhesive safe-loc bandaging system which is super comfortable, breathable and can be worn with your adjustable shoes.  The soft inner foam layer is cotton-lined to protect the skin.  The outer compression layer is latex-free, easily applied and stays in place very well.  In the case of odd-shaped limbs, self-adhesive bandaging is a great improvement on traditional short-stretch systems due to its “grippy” properties.  Using the safe-loc technology the bandages are applied at full stretch, taking out the guess-work and ensuring correct compression.      BOOK NOW

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The Four Pillars of the Reduction Phase

Why trust Massage Yeah with my Lymphoedema Management Therapy ?

Our fully qualified lymphoedema therapist trained with Vodder International in all aspects of Combined Decongestive Therapy. Vodder are world-renowned for producing therapists of the highest standard in manual lymphatic drainage and combined decongestive therapy. Brigitte is a member of the Australasian Lymphology Association and is listed on the National Lymphoedema Practitioner Register.  She is also certified in lymphatic taping and compression garment prescription.    BOOK NOW 

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Dr Vodder trained therapist, member of the Australasian Lymphology Association and listed on the National Lymphoedema Practitioner Register

What can I do to Help my Reduction Phase between Therapy Appointments ?

You will be given lymphoedema exercises to do between appointments during this phase, which help to ‘pump’ fluids away from the affected area. As a general recommendation, mild to moderate exercise is good.  The idea is to keep your bandaging on at all times, except when you bathe.  Ask your therapist to show you how to self bandage so that you can keep your compression constant during the reduction phase.  The Rosidal TCS system we use is designed as a single use system, however you should be able to get several bandagings out of the external layer and more from the inside foam layer.  The bandages are sold seperately so you could extend the use of your foam layer and replace the outside layer for example. 

Keep some “skins” or other form of compression garment handy for emergencies and call your therapist for another appointment in case you can’t bandage for any reason.  Remember that compression garments alone won’t reduce lymphoedema.  Combined Decongestive Therapy only works when you combine compression with Manual Lymphatic Drainage.  Good skin care is also mandatory during both the reduction and maintenance phases of CDT in order to avoid skin complications. The skin is the first line of defense against pathogens, so doing away with those cracked heals for example will help greatly to ensure success with chronic lymphoedema management.  An anti-inflammatory diet is recommended, such as the RAD diet. Click here for our Tips for Living with Lymphoedema.

What Happens when my Lymphoedema has been Reduced ?

At the end of the reduction phase it’s time to re-assess if your usual compression garment is still doing it’s job. At this stage, we can supply measurements if you wish. Once the compression garment issue has been dealt with, you can then go back to the “maintenance phase” of lymphoedema management. This will be ongoing, as there is unfortunately no cure for lymphoedema but with good management it can be kept well under control. It’s best practice to make exercise, skin care and lymphatic drainage part of your regular maintenance routine.     BOOK NOW

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CDT – The four pillars of the maintenance phase.

What Financial Support can I get towards Combined Decongestive Therapy ?

There are various schemes Australia wide which subsidise lymphoedema compression garments. In Queensland chronic lymphoedema sufferers are eligible for two compression garments every six months. You can view the Australian schemes that subsidise compression garments for lymphoedema on the Australasian Lymphology Association website.  You’ll also find links there about eligibility in all states of Australia. Massage Yeah offer HICAPS and receipts for Combined Decongestive Therapy and Lymphatic Drainage under the category of Remedial Massage.  

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Lymphoedema Management and Combined Decongestive Therapy