Lymphedema can be exhausting to manage. There is no surefire way to prevent it, and once you have it, there’s no cure. However, there are treatments that can reduce swelling and there are steps that you can take in order to manage your condition.
Regardless of whether you have primary lymphedema from an inherited condition or secondary lymphedema from damage to your lymphatic system, there are things that you can do to improve your quality of life. There are also things that you should avoid in order to prevent it from worsening.
It can be discouraging being diagnosed with lymphedema and having everyone tell you all the things you cannot do. We will talk about that here, of course, but we will also talk about the things that may help you. Bear in mind that everyone is different. In order to develop the best management plan for you, consult with your doctor for personalized, specific advice.
The Don’ts Of Managing Lymphedema
We’ll deliver the bad news first, so that you can leave this blog on a good note, knowing all the things that you can do. Unfortunately, the list of things you should avoid to prevent flare-ups is extensive.
Your medical team will give you specifics to help you craft a routine that works for you. If you’re ever concerned about how something may affect your lymphedema, consult with your doctor.
Some of the don’ts of managing lymphedema include:
- Don’t wear tight clothing or jewelry.
- Don’t allow injections on the affected or at-risk limb.
- Don’t allow blood pressure to be taken on the affected or at-risk limb.
- Don’t carry heavy bags on the affected side.
- Don’t hold heavy objects for long periods of time.
- Don’t do anything that would stress the affected limb.
- Don’t overheat.
- Don’t ignore any increase in symptoms.
- Do whatever you can to avoid injury to the affected area, including sunburns and bug bites.
If you are overweight, you will want to achieve a healthy weight. If you are at a healthy weight, you will want to avoid gaining weight. Excess weight can worsen lymphedema.
The Do’s Of Managing Lymphedema
We know – it’s exhausting knowing all of the things that you can’t do with lymphedema. Some of the don’ts can be incredibly frustrating, especially with things that are typically out of your control, like cuts and bug bites.
However, there are also quite a few things that can help you manage lymphedema.
Some of the do’s of managing lymphedema include:
- Do wear compression clothes as advised. Ensure that they are well-fitting. You likely need measurements taken to ensure a good fit.
- Do stay active. Consult with your healthcare team about the right types of activities for you, as some exercises can worsen lymphedema.
- Do manage your weight. Healthy eating and appropriate levels of exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Do wear loose, comfortable clothes.
- Do take good care of your skin. Moisturizer prevents chapping and cracking. Sunscreen prevents sunburns. Cleansing your skin regularly, such as after touching dirty clothes or preparing food, is a must.
- Do get appropriate treatments, like lymphatic drainage massages, physical therapy, and more. Your healthcare team will recommend therapies and treatments that are suited to you.
- Do use insect repellent. Even if it seems like there are no bugs outside, you don’t want to risk a bite and infection.
- Do tell your healthcare team if you notice even the slightest increase in symptoms of lymphedema.
In order the create the best lymphedema management plan for you, you’ll want to work closely with your healthcare team. It may take time to reduce the swelling, so be patient and seek out support as you need it.
Is Physical Therapy For Lymphedema Right For You?
If you’re considering physical therapy, the expert physical therapists here at Wasatch Peak Physical Therapy can help. Along with the rest of your medical team, we will be able to determine whether or not physical therapy is a good treatment option for you. If it is, we will develop individualized treatment plans to ensure it’s as helpful as possible.
Contact us today to learn more about our physical therapy treatment options for lymphedema.