The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system. It absorbs and transports interstitial fluids back to the blood circulation. Tiny lymph capillaries take up fluids that leak out of the vein capillaries and transport this lymph fluid through larger lymph vessels. The fluid is then returned to the blood circulation.
Lymphedema and Causes
If a lymph vessel is cut or blocked, or cannot function properly, fluid (edema) builds up in the area under the skin. Inflammation and tissue changes including fat deposition and fibrosis reduce the function of adjacent lymph vessels. This causes the disease to worsen if untreated. Limbs can become extremely large and heavy, and patients are susceptible to dangerous infections such as cellulitis.
- Primary lymphedema is rare and is caused by malformed or absent lymph vessels.
- Secondary lymphedema is much more common, and is caused by disease or physical damage to the lymph vessels or nodes, such as:
- Cancer surgery/radiation or tumor blockage
- Chronic venous insufficiency disease
- Infections (for example, lymphatic filariasis)
Left untreated, lymphedema can cause serious complications! It is extremely important that the patient receive effective and consistent treatment. Generally, treatment focuses on reducing the accumulation of lymphatic fluid and moving it from the affected limb back into the blood circulation.
Treatment methods include:
- Wearing medical compression stockings, or by applying special bandages.
- Complete decongestive therapy (CDT or DLT) performed in clinic and includes manual lymph drainage (MLD), lymphatic bandaging, skin care and exercise.
- Pneumatic compression therapy, is another method of treatment for moderate to severe lymphedema. A special device sequentially inflates and deflates a garment worn over the affected area, applying directional compression. The pressure and release cycle encourages emptying and refill of the lymphatics, while the directional compression promotes the flow of lymph upward towards the torso and assists the lymphatic fluid in finding its way around the blockage to healthy lymphatic channels. The patient wears a medical compression stocking in between treatments.
Lympha Press® dynamic compression therapy is an advanced form of pneumatic compression therapy! Lympha Press® can reduce edema significantly, and maintain the reduction. It is easy to use and can be applied by the patient as part of a home care program.
Patients with lymphedema, especially those with particularly severe conditions, may benefit from using a combination of various treatment methods.
Particularly helpful: a combination regimen of manual lymph drainage and Lympha Press®. This treatment can be carried out entirely in clinic, or with the Lympha Press® portion of the treatment done the patient’s home. This “combined therapy” allows patients the independence and efficiency of home treatment, with the added benefit of the skilled therapist’s touch. The therapist can oversee treatment and make sure everything is on track.
Some patients with extreme lymphedema are treated with Lympha Press®, manual lymph drainage, and bandaging. After the initial reduction is achieved, the patient can continue maintenance with Lympha Press® treatments at home, along with compression garments, and manual lymph drainage as needed.
Compliance is the key to successful treatment
Lymphedema treatment is for a lifetime. Proper and consistent treatment will help maintain limb form and function.
Lympha Press® is easy and effective for patient self-care at home!