March is Lymphedema Awareness Month

Lymphedema is a swelling caused by excess fluid.  Cancer patients can get lymphedema because lymph nodes are damaged or removed during surgery and damaged by radiation.  Lymphedema becomes uncomfortable and limits movement as it progresses.

Treatment?  The therapists through my current insurance are booked weeks out.  As lymphedema progresses it can cause tissue damage and other permanent damage.  Waiting weeks for some relief was not an option.  I increased the exercises for stimulating lymphatic system and added a manual lymphatic drainage (light self-massage) to reduce the swelling.  I was unaware of this simple technique until a friend told me about it.

The results?  Swelling reduced and movement almost back to normal.  Much more comfortable.  Since I was previously doing the exercises, I believe the light self-massage was the thing that reduced the swelling so dramatically.

At the preliminary therapy appointment I was told that my insurance did not provide any massage or self-massage techniques.  I was told that the self-massage probably did not help.  If I wanted to continue self-massage to go ahead because it probably didn’t hurt anything.

My first therapy appointment to learn how to do the compression bandaging designed to reduce swelling?  Two more weeks.

The interesting thing about this self-massage is the light touch used.  One therapist described it as pushing a dime across your skin.  It is just a suggestion to your tissues to wake up and get that fluid moving.  Anything more aggressive is a no-no!