Hatzy Joyce
MAR, MLDUK, BFRP


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Hatzy Joyce, MAR, MLDUK, BFRP
Natural & Complementary Therapies, Cyprus

 

Lymphoedema
Lymphoedema is an accumulation of fluid and waste products that causes swelling to a limb(s) or any body part. It can be due to a genetically compromised lymph system (primary lymphoedema) or damage to the lymph system following accidents, burns or surgery, particularly cancer treatment (secondary lymphoedema).

The swelling can cause restricted mobility, lead to severe infection and cause other related issues such as muscular skeletal pain, body image and depression. Exercise can be difficult for some. If treated early and thoroughly the condition is less likely to develop severe (and sometimes irreversible) complications.

Lymphoedema usually affects the limbs, but the head, face, trunk and genitals can also be involved.

Treatment

Lymphoedema cannot be cured, but with a meticulous regime the swelling can be vastly reduced, the skin tightness lessened, the tissue softened, the limb(s)/area feels lighter, increased mobility and, psychologically, a happier body image can be achieved. The treatment requires an on going commitment from the patient, even when at home, so it is important that family members support the process.

The most effective way to reduce the size of the limb(s) or body part is to have intensive Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT) comprising of 2-3 weeks of daily sessions of:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). MLD allows the therapist to re-route the flow of the lymph to healthy lymph vessels and lymph nodes, thus enabling the body to remove the excess fluid.

  • Skin care - good quality, aqueous creams are very important to nourish the skin.

  • Multi-layered compression bandaging encourages more fluid to be removed from the limb or area in question by providing pressure, and it also softens fibrosis.

  • Specific exercises, with the bandages in situ which speeds up the uptake of excess fluid.
At home the client must continue with skin care, wear compression garments (measured specifically for them), incorporate a tailored exercise regime depending on the limb, and keep up regular manual lymphatic drainage sessions interspersed with a few weeks of CDT.

1) My photos of multi-layered compression bandaging of an arm

2)  Success Photos of Clients attending An Arm & A Leg Clinics, UK http://www.anarmandaleg.co.uk/case_history_1.php