Lymphoedema is a lifelong condition. This means that there is no actual cure or medication, so it does take ongoing management and it can be controlled. As it is a mechanical issue, there are no medications to treat lymphoedema. Often, patients are prescribed diuretics, such as Frusemide. Diuretics act on the kidneys to remove excess fluid. However, lymphoedema is not caused by kidney problems, so unless a patient also has kidney or heart problems, then diuretics aren't the right way to treat it. They can be used in the very short term, but aren't suitable for long term use. If you have been prescribed diuretics, please check with your doctor if this is appropriate.
Looking After Yourself and Reducing Your Risk
Whether you already have lymphoedema or have risk factors, such has having lymph nodes removed, then you should take precautions to prevent triggering lymphoedema or making the condition worse. It's better to prevent it entirely.
Take precautions against injuries to the affected area
Wear gloves when gardening,
Avoid blood tests/needles,
Wear insect repellent
Disinfect any cuts, scratches or insect bites, even if they are minor.
Wear compression garments when flying and for 1 day after flight, if not already wearing them daily.
Avoid heat - including hot baths, spa pools, hot weather
Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT)
Combined Decongestive Therapy (also known by other names such as Complex Decongestive Therapy or Complete Decongestive Therapy) is the gold standard treatment for lymphoedema. It consists of four components.
We have plenty of other tools available as well that can be used to improve the condition.
Phases of Treatment
In some cases, a phase of intensive treatment to reduce the effected area may be necessary. Ideally, this will include daily MLD, exercise and bandaging for as much as 3 weeks.
The maintenance phase maintains the effected area, and aims to keep the swelling from getting worse, reducing risks of complications, such as infection. In-clinic treatment may be once a week or once a month, as everyone is different. The more self care that is done at home, the less need there is for ongoing treatment appointments.