What kinds of treatment did you receive for lymphedema?
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What are possible treatments for lymphedema?
There is no cure for lymphedema. Treatments are designed to reduce the
swelling and control discomfort and other symptoms.
Compression treatments can help reduce swelling and prevent scarring and
other complications. Examples of compression treatments are:
Elastic sleeves or stockings: These must fit properly and provide gradual
compression from the end of the extremity toward the trunk.
Bandages: Bandages that are wrapped more tightly around the end of the extremity and
wrapped more loosely toward the trunk, to encourage lymph flow out of the
extremity toward the center of the body.
Pneumatic compression devices: These are sleeves or stockings connected to a
pump that provides sequential compression from the end of the extremity toward
the body. These may be used in the clinic or in the home and are useful in
preventing long-term scarring, but they cannot be used in all individuals, such
as those with congestive heart failure, deep venous thrombosis, or certain
Manual compression: Massage techniques, known as manual lymph drainage, can
be useful for some people with lymphedema.
Exercises: Exercises that lightly contract and stimulate arm or leg muscles may be
prescribed by the doctor or physical therapist to help stimulate lymph flow.
Surgical treatments for lymphedema are used to remove excess fluid and tissue
in severe cases, but no surgical treatment is able to cure lymphedema.
Infections of skin and tissues associated with lymphedema must be promptly
and effectively treated with appropriate antibiotics to avoid spread to the
bloodstream (sepsis). Patients affected by lymphedema must constantly monitor
for infection of the affected area. In affected areas of the world, the drug
diethylcarbamazine is used to treat filariasis.