A Guide to Understanding and Managing Lymphoedema

Melissa McDonald Naturopath

Lymphoedema frequently presents as a persistent medical condition stemming from the compromised functionality of the lymphatic system. This impairment results in the buildup of surplus lymph fluid, primarily in the lower legs. Certain factors below can compromise this system, leading to the onset of lymphoedema.

What is lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is often a chronic medical condition that arises from the impaired function of the lymphatic system, leading to the accumulation of excess lymph fluid in the affected body parts, usually the limbs. The lymphatic system plays a vital role in maintaining fluid balance and filtering waste products from the body.

When this system becomes compromised lymphoedema can develop. The condition often manifests as swelling, discomfort, and a heightened susceptibility to infections in the affected area.

What factors drive the development of lymphoedema?

  • Surgical procedures

  • Radiation therapy

  • Infections

  • Congential conditions

Causes and types of lymphoedema

Lymphoedema can occur due to various reasons. It is often categorised into two primary types:

  • Primary Lymphoedema: This type is caused by a congenital abnormality in the lymphatic system. It can manifest at any age and is generally hereditary.
  • Secondary Lymphoedema: This type is the result of damage to the lymphatic system, commonly due to surgery, radiation therapy, infection, trauma, or other medical conditions. It is more prevalent and can affect individuals of all age groups.

The hallmark sign of lymphoedema is swelling, heaviness and a feeling of tightness which can occur in the arms, legs, face, or other body parts. As lymphatic fluid accumulates, it causes discomfort, and in some cases, pain. Left untreated, it can lead to skin changes, recurrent infections, and a reduced mobility in the affected limb’s functionality.

Managing lymphoedema with lymphatic drainage massage

Managing lymphoedema is essential to prevent complications and improve the patient’s quality of life. Lymphoedema therapy massage, also known as manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a specialised massage technique is performed by trained therapists, like our expert Jessica Graham, and it offers several benefits for individuals with lymphoedema.

Lymphoedema therapy massage involves gentle, rhythmic, and precise hand movements that assists the lymphatic system in redirecting stagnant lymph fluid towards healthy lymph nodes, where it can be efficiently filtered and drained from the body. This process can result in a noticeable reduction in limb swelling and discomfort.

Other management and treatment options to improve the overall condition of the affected area, and to enhance the patient’s quality of life include:

  • Compression therapy

  • Multi-layered lymphoedema bandaging

  • Specific skincare recommendations including customised herbal medicine cream prescriptions

  • Exercise

  • Manual lymphatic drainage

 

Get the help you need with lymphoedema

For those struggling with lymphoedema, seeking the expertise of a trained therapist like Jessica Graham is crucial. Jessica has extensive experience in providing lymphoedema therapy massage, and she can develop a personalised treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and condition.

By attending sessions with Jessica, you can not only experience the physical benefits of lymphatic drainage but also gain valuable insights and support in managing your condition on a daily basis.

You can find out more about Jessica Graham here, or book an appointment now by clicking here.