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The Lighter Touch
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Lymphoedema is a debilitating condition which involves the swelling of a limb or body part. It is often disfiguring and can affect the quality of life of the sufferer.
Causes of Lymphoedema are various and are labelled as primary, secondary, dynamic or combined.
- Primary Lymphoedema is when the lymph system is faulty (i.e. either lymph vessels are lacking or are not structured correctly) causing a compromise of drainage from the tissues. Symptoms can present themselves at birth or during other stages in life such as puberty.
- Secondary Lymphoedemas are when a usually healthy lymph system is subject to body trauma such as cancer, radiotherapy or injury.
- Dynamic Lymphoedema is when the patient has a healthy lymph system but other organs or body processes are compromised, i.e. heart or kidney malfunction.
- Combined Oedemas are when the lymph system becomes slow and compromised due to other body dynamics such as lipoedema & venous insufficiency.
For Primary, Secondary & combined oedemas such as Venous Insufficiency and Lipoedema the treatment involves a four cornerstone course of treatment.
These vital four cornerstones have to be implemented at the same time in order for the lymphoedema to reduce. These are:
- Softening the tissues & reducing the limb size with Manual Lymph Drainage
- Skin care - using non perfumed lotions to soften the skin and taking precautions to prevent infection
- Compression therapy using Multi-Layer bandaging to Compression garments
- Exercise to improve lymphatic return
A course of MULTI LAYER COMPRESSION BANDAGING is vital to bring the oedematous limb down in size. It softens hard fibrotic tissue and prevents infections such as cellulitis.
MULTI-LAYER COMPRESSION BANDAGING
Complex Decongestive Therapy or CDT (sometimes called Decongestive Lymphoedema treatment or DLT) is when we do an intensive course of Manual Lymph Drainage with Multi Layer Compression Bandaging. This treatment is vital to bring the oedematous limb or body part down in size. It softens hard fibrotic tissue, prevents lymph leakage (lymphorrhea) and prevents infections such as cellulitis.
Treatment intensity will be decided on patient examination and either short stretch or Coban 2 bandages will be ordered. Most of these are available on prescription.
During this intensive phase skin will be monitored throughout and exercises suggested.
Following this intensive phase, the patient will be measured for compression garments and monitored on a regular basis to ensure the lymphoedema is under total control.