Edema therapy

The lymph nodes lie close to major organs and contain the janitors and policemen of the bloodstream, the white blood cells. Due to a disturbed balance between the supplying and draining of moisture an abnormal accumulation of moisture can develop, also known as an oedema.

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More about edema therapy

Problems in the lymphatic system can be congenital (primary lymph oedema), but usually lymph oedema occurs as a result of severe damage to the lymph nodes or lymph vessels (secondary lymph edema). Possible causes of secondary lymph edema include surgery, irradiation, trauma, infections or insect bites.

Damage to the lymphatic system leads to the accumulation of lymph, which is not drained as usual. The lymphatic system cannot handle this, as its capacity is decreased. This results in an accumulation of moisture, or an oedema.

Recognising edema

Lymph edema is in most cases easy to recognise. Lymph edema can be recognised as a swelling, the cause of which is the accumulation of moisture in the skin and underlying tissue. Besides this swelling, there can also be a tired or heavy feeling in the afflicted limb, or a feeling of tension around the wrist, fingers, ankles, elbow or knees. In some cases these issues go together with pain. Lymph edema causes issues in daily life and can lead to infections (erysipelas), issues in joints and skin issues.

Treatment

Edema therapy is given by a physiotherapist who has been educated in edema physiotherapy. The first session consists of an intake and examination, wherein you will be asked multiple questions and the body part at hand will be examined.

There are multiple treatment options, which are combined in an oedema therapy treatment:

  • Manual lymph drainage: Manual lymph drainage is a massage whereby mild pressure is applied to the lymph vessels. This treatment stimulates the lymph stream, which results in a better drainage of lymph, decreasing the swelling.
  • Lymph taping: Lymph taping can be used for continuous drainage for edema in the beginning stages; if the edema has already progressed further compression therapy will be applied instead.
  • Compression therapy: Compression therapy is almost always part of the treatment. After direct lymph drainage the drainage of the edema must be continued. This is done by means of a tight bandage or support stocking. Besides this, mobilising and breath exercises and lymph taping are sometimes used.

Indications:

  • In cancer sufferers, beginning, intermediate and late stages
  • After an operation to the lymph nodes or when an edema has developed during a different operation
  • After recognisable afflictions to arms, legs or other parts of the body

If you want to know more about oedema and its treatment, then you can always go to us with questions.