Tag Archives: swelling

Lymphedema

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Lymphedema?

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Lymphedema

Lymphedema can occur in any body part. Some common early symptoms include:

  • Tightness, swelling or thickening anywhere in the extremity. Initially the swelling may fluctuate but over timeit worsens.
  • A burning sensation or tingling sensation radiating down the extremity.
  • Complaints of heaviness or aching of the extremity.
  • Inability to wear rings, jewelry, watches or clothing secondary to edema.

STAGE 1 – Reversible Lymphedema

  • Lymphedema disappears with bed rest and/or elevation especially over night.
  • Edema is soft and pitting, no resistance is felt. Indentations are easily made.
  • No or little fibrosis. No alteration of tissues.

STAGE 2 – Irreversible Edema

  • Protein enriched edema which does not decrease with elevation/nights rest.
  • Connective and scar tissue formation (i.e. fibrosis). Fibrosclerotic changes.
  • Non pitting edema, strong pressure is able to produce pitting.
  • Edema becomes hard. Indentions are difficult to make.

lymphedema

Precautions and Guidelines

  • Maintain a well balanced diet, with low sodium intake. Keep a healthy weight, avoid obesity. Good nutritional guidelines are provided by the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society.
  • Keep the affected arm or leg, clean, and well moisturized. Lotion should be at a relatively low pH balance. The goal is to prevent skin breakdown.
  • Use antibacterial and hypo-allergenic soap when washing.
  • Avoid injections, vaccinations, flu shots, blood draws and IV lines in the affected extremity. Remember, if this is an emergency, it is more important to treat the patient than to worry about putting an IV in the affected arm.
  • If at all possible, avoid having blood pressure taken in the affected arm.
  • Many people enjoy having a manicure. There is always a risk with this but you can decrease your risk by keeping your cuticles moist with lotion and push them back instead of cutting them. You could also consider buying your own manicure set and have the salon use only your tools.
  • When cleaning the house, wear a good quality rubber glove when handling harsh chemicals such as ammonia, bleach, furniture polish, abrasive cleansers etc.
  • Avoid using a razor or depilatory creams for the armpit or leg hair. The safest tool would be an electric razor.
  • When cooking, wear long protective mitts (to the elbow) when taking food out of the oven and when boiling a pot of hot water.
  • It is important to avoid pet scratches, insect bites, spider bites etc. Using an insect repellent may be necessary but remember some brands are very harsh. Look for a natural insect repellent if possible.
  • Avoid sunburn at all cost! Especially if you have received radiation therapy.
  • Be aware of items that can cause a burn such as a curling iron, an iron, space heaters etc.
  • Avoid saunas, hot tubs, and hot showers. Avoid extreme temperatures, very cold or very hot.
  • Avoid lifting or moving heavy objects.
  • Avoid tight fitting clothing or jewelry.
  • Exercise, and be knowledgeable of how exercise effects the lymphedema.
  • Check your skin daily, and call your physician immediately if you notice any adverse changes in your lymphedematous body part or if you have fever and redness.

 

Additional Precautions for Leg Lymphedema

  • Proper shoe wear is essential in avoiding blisters and ingrown toenails, avoid high-heeled shoes.
  • Do not walk bare foot, especially outside.
  • Get all fungal infections treated immediately.
  • Do not receive injections to remove varicose veins in the affected leg.

This information is for educational purposes only. This information should not be used without consultation with your healthcare professional. If you have questions regarding the material or its application, seek professional assistance from your provider. This information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace healthcare professional consultation.

 

When Is the Time Right for Physical Therapy?

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physical therapy

Often, we end up in physical therapy based on the referral of our physician after dealing with and injury for a certain period of time. However, physical therapy can be used for many different ailments and can actually help cut down the time off work, off of sports and promote healing much faster.

Physical therapy can be used for many of your minor and major injuries. Following surgeries or traumas (accidents, dislocations, fractures, sprains) it can cause a considerable reduction in swelling and allow things to heal 75-80% faster than if without therapy. It has been shown that following surgery, the quicker someone goes for therapy, the less likely they are to stiffen up or have complications due to loss of range of motion. It also helps to significantly reduce pain and swelling.

Physical therapy is not only used following surgeries or sports injuries, but can be extremely helpful in preventing symptoms from getting worse and developing into more problems. If you’ve been having pain in your shoulder for 3 months or so, your body now has altered the way it moves your shoulder and in turn, you have developed some compensation patterns which could cause things to develop into other areas, such as your neck from your altered movements. This then, can lead to more significant problems which could have been easily avoided if therapy had been started and symptoms had gotten under control.

Remember, the quicker you get into therapy following an injury or persistent pain, the quicker your response time will be to therapy. If you are having some issues, talk to your physician about starting therapy. You don’t have to wait until it has a complete impact on your life or your recreational activities. Stop pain in your life and feel better by visiting one of our PT & Me physical therapists today.