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PREVENTION

 

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ADL's

Lymph System

Prevention: Upper Extremities

Prevention: Lower Extremities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 Steps to Prevention

Lymphedema can occur immediately post-operatively, within a few months, a couple of years,or 20 years or more after cancer therapy. With proper education and care, lymphedema can be avoided or, if it develops, kept well under control. The following instructions should be reviewed carefully pre-operatively and discussed with your physician or therapist.

For Upper Extremities

Who is at risk? Anyone who has had either a simple mastectomy, lumpectomy or modified radical mastectomy in combination with axillary node dissection and often, radiation therapy.

1. DO NOT IGNORE any slight increase of swelling in the arm, hand, fingers, neck or chest wall - consult your doctor immediately.
2. NEVER allow an injection, IV or a blood drawing in the affected arm(s). Wear a Lymphedema Alert bracelet (call 800.541.3259 for more info).
3. Have blood pressure checked on the unaffected arm, or on the thigh, if bilateral lymphedema.
4. Keep the edemic or at-risk arm spotlessly clean. Use lotion (Eucerin, Lymphoderm) after bathing. Be gentle when drying. Make sure it's dry in the creases and between fingers.
5. AVOID vigorous, repetitive movements against resistance with the affected arm (scrubbing, pushing or pulling).
6. AVOID heavy lifting with the affected arm. Never carry heavy handbags or bags with over-the-shoulder straps.
7. DO NOT wear tight jewelry or elastic bands around the affected fingers or arm(s).
8. AVOID extreme temperature changes when bathing, washing dishes - no saunas or hottubs. Keep the arm protected from the sun.
9. AVOID any type of trauma - bruising, cuts, sunburn or other burns, sports injuries, insect bites, cat scratches.
10. Wear gloves while doing housework, gardening, or any type of work that could result in even a minor injury.
11. AVOID cutting your cuticles when manicuring your nails.
12. EXERCISE is important, but consult with your therapist. Do not over tire an arm at risk; if it starts to ache, lie down and elevate it. Walking, swimming, light aerobics, bike riding and specially designed ballet or yoga is recommended. Do not lift more than 15 pounds.
13. If traveling on an airplane, lymphedema or at risk patients should wear a compression sleeve. Additional bandages may be required on a long flight. Increase fluid intake while in the air.
14. Patients with large breasts should wear light breast prostheses (heavy prostheses may put too much pressure on the lymph nodes above the collar bone), Soft padded shoulder straps may have to be worn. Wear a well-fitted bra - not too tight, ideally with no underwire.
15. Use an electric razor to remove hair from arm pits. Maintain razor properly, replacing heads as needed.
16. Patients with lymphedema should wear a well-fitted compression sleeve during all waking hours. At least every 4-6 months, see your therapist for follow-up.
17. WARNING - If you notice a rash, itching, redness, pain, increase of temperature or fever, see your doctor immediately - it could be a sign of the beginning or worsening of lymphedema.
18. MAINTAIN your ideal weight with a well-balanced, low sodium, high-fiber diet. Avoid smoking and alcohol. Lymphedema is a high protein edema, but eating too little protein will not reduce the protein element in the lymph fluid; rather, this may weaken the connective tissue and worsen the condition. Diet should contain easily digested protein (chicken, fish or tofu).

For Lower Extremities


Who is at risk? Anyone who has had gynecological, melanoma, prostate or kidney cancer in combination with inguinal node dissection and often, radiation therapy.

1. DO NOT IGNORE any slight increase of swelling in the toes, foot, ankle, leg, abdomen, or genitals - consult your doctor immediately.
2. NEVER allow an injection or a blood drawing in the affected leg(s). Wear a Lymphedema Alert necklace.
3. Keep the edemic leg or at-risk leg, spotlessly clean. Use lotion (Eucerin, Lymphoderm) after bathing. Be gentle when drying. Make sure it's dry in the creases and between toes.
4. AVOID vigorous, repetitive movements against resistance with the affected legs.
5. DO NOT wear socks, stockings or undergarments with tight elastic bands.
6. AVOID extreme temperature changes when bathing, or sunbathing - no saunas or hottubs. Keep the legs protected from the sun.
7. AVOID any type of trauma - bruising, cuts, sunburn or other burns, sports injuries, insect bites, cat scratches.
8. AVOID cutting your cuticles when manicuring your nails.
9. EXERCISE is important, but consult with your therapist. Do not over tire a leg at risk; if it starts to ache, lie down and elevate it. Walking, swimming, light aerobics, bike riding or yoga is recommended.
10. If traveling on an airplane, lymphedema or at risk patients should wear a compression stocking. Additional bandages may be required on a long flight. Increase fluid intake while in the air.
11. Use an electric razor to remove hair from legs. Maintain razor properly, replacing heads as needed.
12. Patients with lymphedema should wear a well-fitted compression sleeve during all waking hours. At least every 4-6 months, see your therapist for follow-up.
13. WARNING - If you notice a rash, itching, redness, pain, increase of temperature or fever, see your doctor immediately - it could be a sign of the beginning or worsening of lymphedema.
14. MAINTAIN your ideal weight with a well-balanced, low sodium, high-fiber diet. Avoid smoking and alcohol. Lymphedema is a high protein edema, but eating too little protein will not reduce the protein element in the lymph fluid; rather, this may weaken the connective tissue and worsen the condition. Diet should contain easily digested protein (chicken, fish or tofu).
15. Always wear closed shoes - high tops or well-fitted boots are highly recommended. No sandals or slippers, don't go barefoot. Dry feet carefully after swimming.
16. See a podiatrist once a year to check for and treat fungi, ingrown toenails, calluses, pressure areas, athlete's foot.
17. Wear clean socks and hosiery at all times.
18. Use talcum powder on feet, expecially if you perspire a great deal. Talcum will make it easier to pull on your compression stockings. Wear rubber gloves when pulling on stockings. Powder behind the knee helps prevent rubbing and irritation.

© 2012 HOPE Lymphedema Center, PLLC
Information on this site is for educational purposes and is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness.