What is Lymphedema
Lymphedema of the upper extremity often occurs after the removal or damage of multiple lymph nodes as part of cancer (including breast cancer) treatment. When your lymphatic system is blocked, lymph fluid cannot drain and instead builds up, causing swelling. While there is no cure for lymphedema, it can be managed with a combination of topical, homeopathic gels and pressure point massage.Back to Top
Symptoms of lymphedema include:
- Swelling of extremities, including arms, legs, fingers or toes
- A physical feeling of heaviness or tightness
- Reduced range of physical motion
- Recurring infections
- Hardening of the skin (fibrosis)
Symptoms of lymphedema may not appear until months or even years after cancer treatment.Back to Top
Antioxidants and oral and topical anti-inflammatories can help prevent the formation of lymphedema in the axilla at the post-operative site.
Prior to surgery to remove lymph nodes, six to eight pellets of the homeopathic Arnica montana should be taken every six hours prior to surgery and for 36 hours after surgery. As soon as the wounds close, the surgical site can be gently massaged with Arnica montana gel to decrease swelling and subsequent fibrosis. It is also helpful to massage with ozonated oil mixed with two to four drops of lavender essential oil.
After edema (swelling) has disappeared and sutures are removed, we recommend gently massaging the axilla with DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) and aloe extract, as well as ultrasound treatments if available. Serrapeptase and vitamin E can also be taken orally to reduce fibrosis. High doses of serrapeptase in combination with DMSO with aloe and copper spraying can help if fibrosis has occurred. Additionally, the topical verapamil may be gently massaged into the operative and surrounding area once it has dried.
Numerous physical exercises, including those in Dr. Madeline Chatlain’s manual Upper Extremity Lymphedema Treatment Phase Exercises, can also help manage lymphedema.
Lymphatic drainage, also known as lymphatic massage or manual lymph drainage, is a type of massage therapy that helps to clear the proximal lymphatic channels of accumulated fluid with local pressure pointing and massage. Gentle exercises and pressured sleeves may be used as well. Elevation of the involved extremity during rest periods and sleeping can also help with drainage.
Lower extremity lymphedema drainage can be enhanced with trampoline jumping while a Power Plate can assist with upper extremity drainage. Other measures for managing lymphedema include lymphatic brushing with a sea sponge (which is softer than a Luffa sponge) or a soft-bristled brush. Before brushing, channels close to the heart should be cleared with pressing pressure points and by massaging the sides and back of the neck.
We also encourage a diet which limits the high load of fat from entering the lymphatics and causing increased viscosity of the lymph.
For more information about lymphedema contact the Houston Wellness Clinic today.Back to Top