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How Lymphedema is Treated

Descriptions of the different types of lymphedema treatment.

How Lymphedema is Treated
This article is an overview of the major components involved in the treatment of lymphedema. There are also to links to a detailed description of each. <more...>
Cellulitis is Treated with Antibiotics
Cellulitis, and similar infections, are frequent complications of lymphedema. To prevent these infections from spreading throughout the body, and to minimize any tissue damage,these infections must be treated promptly, and properly,  

Untreated infections, such as those of the head and neck, or antibiotic resistant infections, can trigger a systemic inflammatory response known as sepsis.

  • Sepsis is an illness in which the body has a severe reaction to bacteria or other germs.
  • The prompt diagnosis, and treatment, of sepsis is important because one-third of all people who get this condition die from it.
Compression (1) for Lymphedema Treatment
This is the first in a series of four articles that provide an overview on the use of compression methods to control the swelling of lymphedema.

These compression methods also aid in preventing the hardening of the tissues that may be caused by this swelling.

When exploring compression options, you should read all four of these articles.

Compression (2) Bandaging
Bandaging, which is also known as wrapping, is the most versatile means of reducing, and controlling, the swelling of lymphedema.It also helps to minimize hardening of the affected tissues. 

Bandaging has the added advantage in that:

  • Each time a fresh bandage is placed it is custom fitted to the affected limb.
  • This fresh bandage provides exactly the proper amount of pressure.
Compression (3) Knit Garments
The common charactistic of compression garments to treat lymphedema  is that they are worn under clothing during the day. Such garments include:  
  • Elastic knit two-way stretch stockings.
  • Elastic knit two-way stretch sleeves.
  • Specialized bras designed to aid in the treatment of lymphedema. 
Compression (4) Specialized Aids
Specialized compression aids, which are constructed of foam and fabric, are designed to be worn at night; however, they can also be worn during the day.

These pads are available in a variety of styles and some are custom-fitted garments with stitching to guide the flow of lymph. Other styles have features to soften fibrotic tissues.

Head and Neck Lymphedema Treatment
Head and neck lymphedema is a build-up of protein-rich lymph above the shoulders and collar bones.

This swelling can be due to

  • secondary lymphedema (SLE) resulting from cancer treatment,
  • an injury or surgery, or 
  • primary lymphedema (PLE) which is a inherited genetic abnormality.
LANA -- What is it?
LANA is the acronym for the "Lymphology Association of North America." (An acronym is a word made up of the initials of an organization.) 

LANA is the organization that creates the standards and testing system to certify qualified lymphedema therapists.

These standards includs:

  • a minimum of level of training, and
  • knowledge and experience.
Levaquin and Other Risky Antibiotics
Fluoroquinolones, which are also known as quinolones, are a class of powerful antibiotics that includes: Avelox, Cipro, Factive, Floxin, Levaquin, and Noroxin.

Although these antibiotics are widely prescribed, fluoroquinolones should only be used for lymphedema related cellulitis after other antibiotic options have been exhausted because of the risk for serious side effects.

Low Level Laser Therapy
The Food and Drug administration (FDA) cleared the Riancorp LTU-904 laser therapy device for use by professional lymphedema therapists in the treatment of post mastectomy lymphedema.

Also known as the LTU-904, it is the only laser device approved by the FDA for this purpose.

Lymphedema Stages
The International Society of Lymphology (ISL) has established a system of staging that identifies the progression, or severity of developing lymphedema. 

The use of this system also makes it possible to evaluate the effectiveness, and improvement, through treatment.

Manual Lymph Drainage
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is a very gentle type of massage therapy used to drain excess lymphatic fluid that is blocked in the arms and legs. The goal of this treatment is to improve the overall functioning of the lymphatic system.

Since lymphedema is a condition that is characterized by the blockage of lymph nodes in the arms and legs.MLD is commonly used to treat it.

Say No to Neosporin
Many of us think a well-equipped first aid kit should include Neosporin – and that Neosporin should be applied generously if an injury breaks the skin in an area affected by lymphedema. However:
  • Neosporin allergies have become more common, be alert to the signs of reaction.
  • Proper application of Neosporin requires only a thin layer to protect against infection while minimize the risk of becoming allergic.
The primary purpose of self-massage is to improve the flow of lymph by stimulating the lymphatic vessels. This should be done by using technique as taught to you by your lymphedema therapist. <more...>
Sentinel Node Biopsy
The removal and evaluation of one or more sentinel lymph nodes is an important diagnostic tool in stopping the spread of the patient's cancer and in evaluating the patient;s risk of developing lymphedema. <more...>
Social Security Disability Insurance
Social Security Disability Insurance, which is abbreviated as SSDI, is a Federal government program to provide financial benefits for disabled workers.

It is possible that some patients with severe lymphedema may be eligible for these benefits. 


The Potential of Preventing Lymphedema
The information in this article is based on the results of a study supported by the National Navel Medical Center. The results were promising in demonstrating the potential of preventing the development of lymphedema after treatment for breast cancer. <more...>
Understanding Fibrosis
The term fibrosis is a noun that describes the formation of fine scar-like structures that form within the tissues after radiation treatment. This treatment causes the tissues to harden and this reduces the flow of fluids, including lymph, through these tissues.

The term fibrotic is a verb that meaning pertaining to fibrosis (hardening) of tissues. Radiation, such as that used to treat cancer is one cause of fibrosis. It can also be caused by chemotherapy, burns, and the imaging treatment of lymphedema. 

Understanding Lymphedema Pumps
The goal of using a lymphedema pump is to move excess fluid out of the affected limb and to return it to the circulatory system. A pump can be used in a treatment facility under the supervision of a professional lymphedema therapist. An even more important role of the pump is for use at home by lymphedema patients who do not have access to the services of a lymphedema therapist. <more...>
Vascularized Lymph Node Transfer (VLNTx)
The goal of VASCULARIZED LYMPH NODE TRANSFER (VLNTx) is to reduce lymphedema swelling, and need for compression in one area of the body by surgically transferring healthy lymph nodes from  their home (usually in the groin) to the area in need.   <more...>

Got a question or comment? Post in the 'How Lymphedema is Treated' forum.


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