What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a condition whereby the lymph fluid accumulates in the tissue or in the cavities of the body. Lymphedema normally takes place due to a blockage of some type that impedes the normal flow of lymphatic fluids. Lymphedema may be categorized in two ways, primary and secondary lymphedema.
The reasons for primary lymphedema are quite often unknown since there is no proven and specific etiology in most cases. The causative agents in secondary lymphedema can be multiple and diverse. It may be caused by removal of lymph channels by a specific disease process, or by a defect which was present at birth.
Without treatment, lymphedema can cause multiple other problems that must be resolved. Lymphedema can be problematic, often creating open areas or ulcerations on the body, or may preclude walking well due to swelling of the affected parts. Treatment is indicated when the swelling reaches a point that is causes discomfort or undesirably affects the body in some way, or as a preventive measure to preclude those effects.
What are Your Treatment Options for Lymphedema?
Treatment of lymphedema may take many forms. It can include compression hose, may require bandaging, or other means of compression. Medications may be used to help you to manage your lymphedema. It may even, in some very rare cases, be treated surgically.
The typical treatment will begin with oral medications, in combination with compression garments that will sometimes be effective in managing less severe cases of lymphedema. If those measures are not successful, more aggressive treatment of the condition will become necessary.
Most often, the treatment for lymphedema when other, lesser measures have failed will be the use of a lymphedema pump.
How Do Lymphedema Pumps Work?
Lymphedema can be managed quite well in many cases by the use of lymphedema pumps. They use as a methodology, the compression of the affected area. This is done by compressed air which is piped into a device which fits over the affected area. The rationale for the treatment is to push the edema into the more central area of the body where it may be uptaken by the lymph system.
In most cases, the device which is used on the body, known as a cuff, will be shaped as the arm or leg. Compressed air enters the cuff and puts pressure on the area. The compressed air may be used in one or two ways, depending on the device. In some lymphedema pumps, the pressure is constant and standard in every area on which the cuff lies. In other varieties of lymphedema pumps, the pressure on the affected area will be intermittent.