Thursday, June 25, 2015

Lymphedema Prevention Tips

If you have had treatment for gynecological cancer, which may include surgery, the removal of lymph nodes and radiation, you are at risk for developing lymphedema. This could occur shortly after or many years post cancer treatment. Even though there are no guarantees to prevent lymphedema, there are ways to help minimize the possibility of developing this chronic condition.

  • Learn as much as you can about the lymphatic system and lymphedema.
  • Set up a “preventative” appointment with a Certified Lymphedema Therapist.
  • Do not allow any medical treatment to be administered on the “at risk” limbs. No IV, no blood sticks, no injections, no blood pressure readings.
  • Avoid acupuncture needles placed in the “at risk” limb. Although these are very fine needles, it still is a break in the skin.
  • Protect against insect bites or sunburn that can damage the skin.
  • Wear compression garments when flying. Cabin pressure changes may trigger an initial onset of lymphedema.
  • Maintain a normal body weight. Being overweight adds excess strain or may block the lymphatic system to the already at risk limb.
  • Exercise regularly. Seek professional advice after cancer treatment regarding the type and intensity of your exercise regimen. Returning to your previous exercise program too fast or too intense may overload the lymphatic system.
  • Avoid steam rooms, hot tubs, and saunas. These treatments increase swelling and may trigger lymphedema.
  • Avoid prolonged sitting or standing.
  • Avoid crossing your legs.
  • Wear well-fitting shoes.

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