Treatment for lymphoedema aims to reduce and control swelling, relieve discomfort and prevent more build-up of fluid.
Following treatment, the affected limb or area should become less swollen, be easier to move and feel more comfortable. Sometimes it may take several weeks or months before you notice any real improvement.
Learning how to manage lymphoedema yourself is a major part of treatment. At first it may seem overwhelming and feel unfair that you have all this to deal with. It’s normal to have these difficult feelings from time to time.
Your lymphoedema specialist will explain, and show you, what you can do for yourself. This will involve a combination of skin care, exercises, a simple form of skin massage and wearing a compression garment. Some of the treatments may need to be done every day to give the best results.
Gradually you’ll find that you can develop a routine that builds lymphoedema care into your everyday activities. Family and friends often want to help and there may be practical things they can do. They could help with heavy lifting or carrying, or help you with your compression garment or simple skin massage. Taking good care of yourself is also important.
Treatment for lymphoedema affecting an arm or leg
- skin care to prevent injury and infection
- positioning and moving your limb to help drain fluid
- compressing the area using compression garments such as sleeves, stockings, special bras, or compression bandages
- exercising and keeping active to improve the flow of lymph
- specialised massage called manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), or self-massage called simple lymphatic drainage (SLD), to help drain fluid
- deep breathing exercises built into your daily routines.