Compression Therapies

Written by Diane Sievert
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Compression therapies are necessary for anyone afflicted with lymphedema, regardless of whether or not it is primary or secondary lymphedema. If the affected area has become swollen with protein rich fluid, it must be drained and compressed. The manner in which treatment is prescribed depends on the severity of the lymphedema at hand but it almost always follows the same progression.

The Progression of Compression Therapies

Compression therapies generally begin with a lymphatic massage, also referred to as manual lymph drainage. A lymphedema therapist will use rhythmic movements to redirect the excess fluid away from the affected area. This, however, is only the first of many compression therapies that an afflicted individual will have to undergo.

Next in line is bandaging: after the massage, the therapist will bandage or bind the affected area so that the excess fluid does not have room to return. Often times a patient must have a lymphatic massage followed by professional bandaging everyday until the swelling has decreased. Once the therapist can see improvement, the frequency of massages will be slowly but surely dwindle until (hopefully) they are no longer needed.

Compression therapies, however, don't stop there. Once the affected area has returned to normal, the patient must still take extra care to prevent a swelling relapse. Lymphedema management, as this is often called, is most often achieved by wearing specially designed compression garments and doing remedial exercises on a daily basis.


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