Lymphedema usually affects an arm or leg but can also affect other body parts, such as the head and neck. You may notice symptoms of lymphedema in the area of your body where you had surgery or received radiation therapy. Swelling develops slowly over time, could develop during treatment, or may start years after treatment.
At first, lymphedema in an arm or leg may cause symptoms such as:
Ways To Manage Lymphedema
Steps you can be advised to take to prevent or to keep lymphedema from getting worse:
Protect your skin - use lotion to avoid dry skin. Use sunscreen. Wear plastic gloves with cotton lining to prevent scratches, cuts, or burns. Keep your feet clean and dry. Keep your nails clean and short to prevent ingrown nails and infection. Avoid tight shoes and tight jewelry.
Exercise - keep body fluids moving, especially in places where lymphedema has developed. Start with gentle exercises that help you to move and contract your muscles. Ask your doctor or nurse what exercises are best for you.
Manual lymph drainage - see a certified lymphedema therapist for a therapeutic massage called manual lymph drainage. Therapeutic massage works best to lower lymphedema when given early before symptoms progress.
Ways To Treat Lymphedema
Your doctor or nurse may advise you to take these and other steps to treat lymphedema:
Wear compression garments or bandages - such as sleeves, stockings, bras, compression shorts, gloves, and face or neck compression wear. Some garments are designed to be worn during the day, while others are meant to be worn at night.
Other practices - your health care provider may advise you to use compression devices (pumps that apply pressure periodically) or have laser therapy or other treatments.
Talking With Your Health Care Provider About Lymphedema
Prepare for your visit by making a list of questions to ask. Consider adding these questions to your list:
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