What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a condition of localized fluid retention and tissue swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system, which normally returns interstitial fluid to the thoracic duct, then the bloodstream. The condition can be inherited or can be caused by a birth defect, though it is frequently caused by cancer treatments and by parasitic infections. Lymphedema develops most often in one arm or leg, but may be present in both arms and both legs. It may also occur in hands or feet, and even in chest, back, neck, face, abdomen and genitals. Lymphedema can be managed with early diagnosis and by certain treatment programs for the affected area.
There are two types of lymphedema: primary and secondary. Primary lymphedema is caused by malformations of lymphatic system present at birth or develop later, often during puberty or pregnancy. Secondary lymphedema can be a result of damage to the lympfatic system. Surgical procedures such as mastectomy, lympectomy, radiation, traumatic injury, infection or severe chronic venous insufficiency are most common causes.
Since there is no cure for lymphedema, the goal of treatment is to reduce the swelling and to maintain the reduction. Treatment works in two phases, and consists of four components:
Manual lymph drainage – performed by specially trained therapists, moves the lymph fluid out of the affected region and reduces the swelling.
Compression garments – once the swelling is reduced, the patient is fitted with graduated compression garment. Patients should use compression garments continuously during the day. To encourage compliance, the elastic compression garments must fit appropriately.
Hygiene and skin care – appropriate skin care and debridement are stressed in the treatment of lymphedema, to prevent recurrent cellulitis or lymphangitis.
Self-manual lymph drainage and exercises – to assure continued success.
Treatment procedures such as diuretics or surgery are not appropriate for lymphedema, as neither of them have proven successful.
At Comfort Clinic, we offer a complete line of high quality, comfortable, durable and fashionable compression garments such as compression stockings for lymphedema, compression sleeves for lymphedema, leg and arm compression wrap-around, hand gauntlets and gloves, circular knit compression stockings for lymphedema, and flat knit compression stockings for lymphedema (custom made) to keep the swelling down, improve circulation and prevent re-accumulation of lymph fluid. Measurements are taken by our certified compression garments fitters to ensure garments fit properly. They will also educate you on self application and care for your garments to make your lymphedema management easy and effective.