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Compression bandaging is an important part of reducing a swollen limb. The bandages provide resistance against the skin and muscles underneath. This resistance increases reabsorption of fluid from the tissues and does not allow the limb to refill. It is important to use the right type of bandaging product and apply the bandages so that there is more pressure at the end of the limb (fingers, or toes) and less pressure as the bandage is wrapped up towards the body.
The reason the bandage is called "short stretch" is because it does not stretch much thereby providing resisitance against the working muscles. A short stretch bandage IS NOT AN "ACE" BANDAGE! Ace Bandages are not appropriate for lymphedema therapy and in fact may cause discomfort or pain and increase the swelling!Secure the bandages with tape. Never use the clips that come with the bandages as they make holes in the bandage and can nick fingers.
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What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is the chronic swelling or feeling of tightness in a limb due to an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the soft tissue. This condition occurs when lymph vessels, which normally carry excess fluid out of the limbs and back into central circulation, have had their flow interrupted.
For example in Axillary (underarm) lymph node removal is commonly performed on breast cancer patients to stage or treat their cancer. However, between 15% and 20% of breast cancer patients who undergo axillary lymph node removal develop lymphedema. According to the American Cancer Society, of the two million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., approximately 400,000 must cope with lymphedema on a daily basis.
Lymphedema of Foot and Leg also may occur. It may also be caused by chronic infection, usually involving the legs. Less commonly, lymphedema is primary (ie. due to genetics). Children with primary lymphedema may be born with it (congenital lymphedema) or it may become evident in their teens (lymphedema praecox) or in adulthood (lymphedema tarda).
Chronic lymphedema may result in minor swelling and discomfort. Occasionally it leads to a grave disability and disfigurement. Lymphedema may be precipitated, or made worse, by a skin infection. Skin infections can be difficult to treat in someone with pre-existing lymphedema.
Other cases of Lymphedema may also result from post mastectomy, post lumpectomy, post radiation therapy, post pelvic surgery, and other medical reasons.
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