Check out what’s happening in the month of March 2014
Lymphoedema Awareness Month
By Sinead Sperrin (Physiotherapist)
What Is Lymphoedema?
Lymphedema is a condition that develops when lymph nodes located in the body (under your arms, your groin, your elbow creases, behind your knees) become blocked, damaged, or are removed due to surgery, and an accumulation of protein rich fluid occurs within the body.
Each person has between 600-700 lymph nodes in their body. The function of the lymph nodes is:
- To help filter lymph fluid from the lymphatic system and return it to the venous system
- To produce white blood cells to aid in immune defence
- They regulate protein concentration in the lymph.
If the nodes are no longer able to perform these duties, then a backlog of fluid occurs in the arms, legs, chest, face, or genitals, and this can lead to other serious health conditions.
Lymphedema can be due to primary causes, such as congenital (develops at birth or within 2 years of birth), lymphoedema precox (develops within 2 and 35 years of age), or lymphoedema tarda (develops after 35 years of age).
It can also be due to secondary causes such as cancer within the lymph nodes, cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery, trauma to lymph nodes, infections such as filariasis or cellulitis, obesity, and immobility.
At this point in time, there is no cure for lymphedema. However, there are ways to manage the high protein swelling that develops within your limbs.
Treatment for Lymphedema
At Rathmines Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Centre, we offer a variety of treatment options for your lymphedema needs.
The gold standard of treatment for the management of lymphedema is Complex Lymphedema Therapy (CLT). It is a two phase treatment option involving:
- Phase 1: the intensive phase. This includes skin care, scar management, manual lymphatic massage (specific sequential massage), multi-layer lymphatic bandaging, garment prescription, exercise, hydrotherapy, deep breathing, and other modalities such as laser, ultrasound, and compression pump technology. This could last up to 6weeks of at least twice weekly treatment.
- Phase 2: the maintenance phase. This phase includes garment application, self-massage, home exercise program, skin care, risk management, and 6 monthly checkups.
Manual Lymphatic Massage (MLD)
During phase one of the complex lymphedema treatment, manual lymphatic drainage will be performed by your therapist. This specific, sequential massage can take 30-45 minutes, and involves slow, soft strokes and circular movements that create empty central reservoirs, utilise collateral lymph channels to move lymph fluid, and encourage the movement of lymph within the body.
Multi-Layer Lymphatic Bandaging (MLLB) with Coban 2
In our clinic, when we perform multi-layer lymphatic bandaging, we use a system called Coban 2.
This bandaging system differs from traditional forms of lymphedema compression in that it uses two comfortable layers: a compression foam layer and a compression bandage layer.
The benefits of Coban 2 include:
- Two comfortable layers as opposed to traditional methods which use four layers of compression
- Applied twice weekly rather than every day
- Less bulky application than traditional methods
- Increased wearability as bandages stay in place
- Improved mobility and function of limbs so patients can maintain their daily activities of living
- Skin maintenance and safety
- Better customisation to different sizes and shapes of limbs
- Ease of application and removal
- No need for extra padding
If you have any questions about lymphedema or wish to have an assessment with one of our specialised lymphedema therapists, then please do not hesitate to contact us at the clinic on 4975-1622.
Lymphedema Awareness Month
March is Lymphedema Awareness Month, and the Australasian Lymphology Association holds their annual fundraiser- “Iced Tea Party”. If you would like to register and be involved, or make a donation, you can visit http://www.mycause.com.au/events/icedteapartyforlymphoedema