Lymphoedema can be treated in a number of ways. We cover only those treatments supported with hard evidence and as a result we achieve high treatment results. Sue Levine is very experienced in the treatments she provides and is constantly attending courses to keep her knowledge and ability at the highest professional level.
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Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a specialised, gentle type of skin massage and an important part of lymphoedema treatment. The aim is to encourage the extralymph fluid to move away from the swollen area so it can drain normally.
Simple Lymphatic Drainage (SLD)
You can also learn to do a simplified version of MLD at home yourself, called simple lymphatic drainage (SLD). It’s important that you’re taught this by a specialist. SLD helps stimulate the lymph channels and drain excess fluid.
Multi-Layer Lymphatic Bandaging (MLLB)
Bandaging for lymphoedema is called multi layered lymphoedema bandaging (MLLB). The aim is to help lymph to drain and stop it building up. It can also help parts of the body to get back to their normal shape. You sometimes have the area bandaged immediately after the massage. You usually have this daily while you are having intensive treatment. Some people only need the bandaging.
Bandaging needs to be done in a particular way. If it is uneven or isn’t done correctly it may not work. It may even make swelling increase or build up unevenly. How the bandaging is done depends on the type of bandages used. There are various layers that are put on in the following order
Finger or toe bandaging if you have lymphoedema of a limb
A tubular bandage
A layer of soft synthetic wool or foam
A dense foam layer
The bandage layer – these are low stretch bandages
Taping to fix everything in place
Measuring for compression garments
The most important prerequisite for successful treatment with compression hosiery is a stocking that fits perfectly.
Therefore, measurements should only be taken by trained specialists using clearly defined criteria. The slightest measuring mistake may jeopardize the treatment or even cause harm. Precise measuring is particularly important with custom-made stockings, which are made according to the patient's individual measurements.
The basic rule is that the upper or lower extremity must be largely free of oedema. The ideal time to take measurement is BEFORE any swelling can develop, i.e., in the morning or immediately after any compression bandages have been removed.
Skin care is an important aspect in managing lymphoedema. For people with (or at risk of developing) lymphoedema, part of the day-to-day care of your limb should include careful observation of your skin. Within the skin cells there are known to be natural moisturising factors (NMFs); these start to diminish after the age of 20, and therefore skin is at risk of becoming drier as we age. It is, therefore, vital to further improve or maintain a healthy skin condition in people who suffer with lymphoedema.
Appropriate exercise regime
Exercise helps lymph fluid move through the lymphatic system. This helps to reduce lymphoedema swelling because exercise makes the muscles contract and push lymph through the lymph vessels. Exercises have other benefits. They can help you to keep a full range of movement and generally make you feel better.
In the past some doctors were worried that exercise may make lymphoedema worse. The evidence does not support this. We know from research that exercise can improve the movement of the lymph fluid through the lymphatic system. This can help to reduce swelling.