Lymphoedema after a breast cancer treatment. Lymphoedema means long term (chronic) swelling.
It happens because cancer, or the effects of treatment, block the normal fluid drainage channels of the lymphatic system. Fluid called lymph begins to collect in an area and doesn't drain in the normal way. So the area swells.
Many people will have lymphoedema of the arm after breast cancer treatment - hat includes surgery to remove lymph nodes or radiotherapy to the lymph nodes in the armpit. Some people have lymphoedema in the breast area but this is less common. If you have no treatment for the lymphoedema, it will get worse. It can be painful and over time can make it difficult to move your arm. It cannot be completely cured. But specialists can treat symptoms such as swelling and pain. Treatment for lymphoedema aims to reduce swelling and prevent the fluid building up again.
The treatment takes a while to show results. You should notice the swelling going down within a few weeks. But it can come back, so you will always need to be careful and get some help if you have problems.
Treatment for your lymphoedema aims to push excess fluid back out of your arm or breast area. There are different ways of doing this.
You may have:
- A special type of massage called manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). It should be started straight after the breast cancer therapy. Studies demonstrate that regardless of the surgery type and the number of the lymph nodes removed, MLD effectively prevents and improves lymphedema of the arm on the operated side.
- Kinesio Tap
- An elastic sleeve to wear, - especially fitted to you - from the wrist to the top of your arm (to reduce arm swelling)
Things you can do in adition is to keep a healthy lifestyle with low fat food and exercise, prevent sun burning, and be very careful with small injuries in arm and hand. If you work in the garden wear gloves, even small scratches may cause problems.
At Physio-Fit we have specialists for Manual Lymphatic Drainage. For further information please do not hesitate to contact us.