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Treatment For Upper Extremity Lymphedema

Written by Amy Hall
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Obtaining Treatment for Upper Extremity Lymphedema

Treatment for upper extremity lymphedema is very important in order for the patient to live a normal life. If lymphedema is not treated, the swelling of the extremity can become so grossly large that mobility is impaired to the point that it affects the patient's ability to take care of him or herself. In addition, lymphedema that goes unchecked can lead to serious complications, including infection and venous insufficiency.

The signs of lymphedema include a heaviness in the limb, tightness of the skin, and swelling. As soon as these lymphedema symptoms manifest themselves in the patient, medical attention ought to be sought out immediately. A doctor can prescribe antibiotics if an infection has already taken hold, and refer the patient to a certified therapist for further therapy.

Following A Plan

Women who undergo breast cancer surgery, for example have a radical mastectomy with lymph nodes removed, are at a greater risk for developing lymphedema of the arms. It is important that these women are educated about the signs and treatment for upper extremity lymphedema before they even have the surgery. Patients need to be made aware of the symptoms so that they can seek out help immediately to keep complications limited.

Manual Lymph Drainage and Complete Decongestive Therapy seem to be the treatment of choice by health care professionals. These therapies involve massage which stimulates lymph flow, and compression therapy with bandages and/or garments. Patients are also shown how to perform remedial exercises, and practice meticulous nail and skin care in order to avoid infection.


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