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My self-management

Support and self-management

Once lymphedema has been stabilized with decongestive lymphatic therapy (2 weeks or more), your therapist will recommend the right compression garment for you and help you make the transition to self-management:

Compression garments

Compression garments stabilize swelling and are an essential part of long-term treatment.

Garments must be prescribed by a physician and fitted by a specialist in the art of measuring. They can be purchased off-the-shelf or made-to-measure, but must always fit properly. Compression garments are worn during the day, especially during periods of high activity.

They must be removed at night. A variety of non-elastic and limited-elasticity compression products are available for day and night wear. While you’re waiting for your compression garment to arrive, it’s a good idea to stabilize your lymphedema with self-bandaging.

Physical activity

Physical activity combined with compression garments and self-management will transform your life. Get moving and exercise for better lymphedema control, weight management, and better physical and psychological health.

Exercise, movement and deep breathing stimulate lymphatic circulation. General physical activity increases strength, preserves joint mobility, helps maintain a healthy weight, and helps prevent injury. Be as active as possible.

Keep in mind that exercise promotes lymphatic drainage and stimulates alternative lymphatic pathways to take over from failing parts of your lymphatic system.

Body weight

Maintain a normal body weight, as being overweight is associated with worsening lymphedema symptoms. There are still no specific dietary recommendations for lymphedema. Try to follow a balanced diet as recommended by Canada’s Food Guide.

Self-bandaging

In some cases, to maintain the results of treatment, your therapist may teach you to self-manage. This will improve your independence.

Education in self-management

Lymphedema is a condition that requires daily care. Your therapist and/or an LAQ support group will teach you how to manage it. To ensure your autonomy, you’ll be introduced to self-management, self-massage (a simplified version of MLD), and skin care.

Self-massage

Your therapist will teach you self-massage techniques to ensure better lymph circulation.

Skin care

  • It is essential to pay special attention to the skin to reduce the risk of infection. Cleanse with a mild soap. Dry thoroughly, then apply a hypoallergenic moisturizer to prevent chapping and irritation.
  • Be on the lookout for cuts, scratches, splinters and needle-sticks. Use an electric razor to avoid cuts and skin irritation.
  • In the event of a cut or scrape, clean the wound with soap, disinfectant and, if necessary, antibiotic ointment. At the slightest sign of infection, consult a doctor immediately.
  • Protect your skin with a high factor sunscreen to avoid sunburn, and use insect repellent to avoid insect bites.

Self-measurement

Self-measurement is a quick and easy way to monitor the lymphoedematous limb. Measure once a month if your lymphedema is stable, and more often if it varies. Keep a record of your measurements. If the limb swells further and self-bandaging isn’t enough to stop the increase, consult your therapist.

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