When Radiation Therapy Goes Awry: Helping Your Loved One With Lymphedema

Health & Medical Blog

Lymphedema, a disorder of the lymphatic system that causes extreme swelling, pain, and fluid retention in the limbs, affects some survivors of breast cancer that underwent radiation therapy, though the precise reason for this is unclear. In order to help your loved one as they struggle with this new condition, you will need to know and understand their lymphedema treatment options:

Light Upper Body Exercise

One of the first lymphedema treatment techniques that you can help your loved one try is a basic and simple upper body workout regimen. While this will not reverse any lymphedema swelling that has already occurred, it can help to slow and/or prevent further spread of the swelling.

This upper body routine will consist of weight lifting that needs to start extremely light. Find the lightest hand weights around or set weight machines at the gym to the lowest possible settings and do small reps. Increase the number of reps and weight gradually to build muscle strength and keep lymphedema at bay.

It is important to keep doing these exercises regularly. Even one skipped week means that your loved one will need to start over at the extremely light level again, and lymphedema symptoms can worsen in that single week. 

Compression Garments

In addition to frequent exercise, another way to keep the lymphedema swelling from spreading is to have your loved one wear compression garments. If you have ever heard of compression stockings to help with blood circulation in the legs for those recovering from surgery or the elderly, compression sleeves and upper body garments function in much the same way but are used for the upper body.

Compression gloves and sleeves, cover the arm and compress the tissue to ensure that the lymph and blood continue to circulate properly through the limbs and do not get backed up causing the fluid retention that causes swelling. Depending on the severity and precise location of your loved one's lymphedema, they may also need to wear a compression bra that also works on the chest area to help control swelling. 

These two methods of dealing with lymphedema are your loved one's first and best line of defense against this disorder. Should it get out of hand, they make be looking at surgeries, fluid pumps, and more aggressive medical treatments. So, do your best to keep your loved one exercising those arms and wearing their compression garments to help keep their lymphedema under control.

To learn more, contact a company like Dynamic Rehabilitation Services with any questions you have.


13 February 2015

Tips for Adult Caregivers

For the past few years, my husband’s grandfather has been living in a house trailer on my in-laws’ property. My mother-in-law tirelessly and selflessly cares for her father on a daily basis. I’ve often watched the loving and respectful way she treats her father who has both poor physical and mental health. While I admire the way that she handles her situation, I worry that she doesn’t take enough time for herself. I fear that she will become exhausted and unable to tend to her daily duties if she doesn’t slow down some. On this blog, you will learn some tips to stay energized and refreshed while attending to your adult loved one’s needs.