Monday 28 October 2013

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema Experienced as a Side Effect by Many Breast Cancer Survivors

Lymphedema is a protein rich swelling caused by a defect or blockage in the lymphatic system. It is seen as a side effect experienced by many breast cancer survivors who have undergone cancer treatment. Lymphedema presents with a feeling of heaviness or achiness of the affected limb because of the accumulation of lymphatic fluid within the lymphatic vessels and affected lymph nodes. The reason lymphedema is so dangerous is the risk of developing infection in the affected limb. Areas affected by lymphedema are prone to infection, since bacteria can grow easily in protein-rich lymphatic fluids.

Laurel Osborne, RMT performs lymphatic drainage at LifeMark Physio on Bay

"Best Kept Secret in the World of Cancer"

Even though its dangers are widely acknowledged within the medical and clinical communities, lymphedema is still not an everyday term. According to the Lymphedema Chronicles, lymphedema is the best kept secret in the world of cancer. "Many women do not even hear the word lymphedema nor receive any instructions for precautions to lessen their risks of developing lymphedema. Additionally, for the women who do develop lymphedema, they are hard pressed to find information let alone where to find treatment," cites author Carol Enters.

At LifeMark Health/Cancer Rehab Canada, we urge early rehabilitation treatment for cancer patients and cancer survivors to lower their risk of developing lymphedema. It is vitally important to manage signs and symptoms early, and through physiotherapy exercise, manual lymph drainage, bandaging and other education and techniques, lymphedema can be effectively managed.

Lymphedema is Manageable With The Proper Treatment

"Lymphedema is a manageable condition. With the proper treatment measures and ongoing home care, lymphedema can be reduced and maintained so that swelling remains minimal", says Laurel Osborne, RMT at LifeMark Physiotherapy on Bay.

As an integral part of the immune system, the lymphatic system fights infection and removes toxins from body tissues.

Lymphedema can happen when lymph vessels are damaged and damaged lymph nodes cannot handle the lymph fluid. If lymph nodes aren't functioning properly, the vessels can no longer stretch and they become enlarged, causing pressure on the lymph vessels. When this goes on for a long time, the vessels can no longer carry lymph fluid, so the lymph collects in nearby tissue.

To find a Cancer Rehab Canada near you, visit the list of British ColumbiaSaskatchewanOntario, or Nova Scotia locations.

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