Lymphedema Pumps

 

The lymph system filters and returns the protein rich fluid that circulates in your body.  For people who have damage to their lymph system, prolonged and painful swelling of the arms and legs can occur.

 

Persistent swelling can make it hard to get clothes over the area or wear your regular shoes. Lymphedema of the legs can make it hard to move around.  If lymphedema becomes chronic, several complications can occur.  Infection from the excess fluid is common. An infection of the lymph system is called lymphangitis. A skin infection called cellulites is also possible.  Repeated infections or prolonged stress on the skin causes hardening or fibrosis, which usually can’t be reversed.  

Prevention can really reduce the discomfort and complications of this disorder. So it’s very important to do everything you can to avoid infections in the area affected by lymphedema.  That means keeping the skin clean, dry and supple.   If the skin is too moist, breakdown can occur, allowing infection to develop.  Very dry skin can crack, another way for infection to take hold. Always protect the area from cuts or scrapes with clothing or shoes.  Regular exercise or motion of the affected limb can  be very helpful in keeping the fluid moving because the muscle contraction provides gentle sequential compression directly to the lymph vessels.

 

There are no medications that can reduce the swelling in lymphedema patients. 

Lymphedema can be treated with a variety of external methods.  Manual lymphatic drainage helps the fluid to flow freely through the lymph system.  Many massage therapists can provide this kind of care. 

 

In some cases your doctor will suggest a compression garment to put constant pressure on the lymph vessels to promote drainage. Compression garments are ordered in standard sizes for mild lymphedema, For more  severe cases,  custom-fitted compression garment are measure and fabricated to fit the patient’s limb.  

Pneumatic pumps, which inflate large cuffs in sequence, can emulate the action of muscles when you are walking or moving.  These sequential pumps are another very helpful treatment for patents with lymphedema.

 

 

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