This week saw the start of Lymphedema treatment on my legs which is a combination of Lymph Drainage Massage followed by Lymph decompression by strapping the legs with bandages – in my case, up to the knees.
What is Lymphedema? It is the swelling of a body part, mostly an extremity like an arm or a leg (in my case, both legs) caused by the abnormal accumulation of lymph fluid. It can also occur in the face, neck, abdomen and lungs. Although it is a chronic and progressive condition, it can usually be controlled by a combination of Lymph Drainage massage and compression bandages and then later managed by way of wearing compression stockings.
The condition most often causes a feeling of heaviness, cosmetic deformity, slight discomfort, repeated episodes of infection and, in rare cases, malignant degeneration. Severe cases are associated with thickening of the skin, hardening of the limb, leakage of lymph and massive swelling. It is a fairly common condition affecting roughly one percent of the population.
Primary Lymphedema – those that occur without any obvious cause. They may be present at birth, occur later in life or develop after the age of 35. Some cases are familiar and can also be congenital. Primary Lymphedema is more common in women and occurs more often in the lower extremities.
Secondary Lymphedema – caused by injury, scarring or excision of the Lymph nodes. This usually occurs as a result of previous radiation and/or surgery of the Lymph nodes in the neck, axilla, pelvis or groin. Occasionally, secondary Lymphedemas are caused by trauma to or chronic infections of the Lymph system.
I was not too anxious or stressed about the treatment because I’ve had Lymph Drainage massage before, I just was not sure how I was going to feel about having both my legs bandaged.
The massage itself and the strapping is painless, however, once you’ve been strapped for a while, you start feeling the pressure of the bandages which can cause a bit of discomfort. The massage and strapping takes approximately two hours and is usually done daily until the condition can be managed by way of compression stockings.
The strapping does not immobilise you, so you are able to move about doing your daily chores, exercise etc. I was able to go back to work immediately afterwards, I just could not get any shoes on my feet so had to drive without shoes and walk around without shoes for the whole day. Being in the middle of Winter here where I live, that was a bit of a challenge, but I managed.
I am scheduled for another session next week which will be my last pre-op session.
Once I have recovered from my surgery for my incisional hernia, I will start my Lymphedema treatment proper which means going in to the therapist daily for massage and strapping until my condition can be managed by way of compression stockings.