Managing lymphedema can be a struggle for your patients. Luckily, there are many products that can help them cope with and reduce the swelling.
- Lymphedema is a condition that causes swelling, typically in the arms or legs.
- While lymphedema doesn’t have a cure, there are many ways symptoms can be managed or reduced.
- Compression bandaging and compression garments are common tools for reducing swelling from lymphedema.
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The Basics of Lymphedema
What is lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a condition that causes swelling, typically in the arms or legs.
It is most commonly caused by removal or damage to the lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment. This creates a blockage in your lymphatic system, resulting in lymph fluid building up, which causes swelling. You can read more about managing lymphedema after breast cancer in this article.
But there are additional conditions that can also cause lymphedema or swelling in a patient’s limbs. Learn more about the difference between lymphedema and edema, a condition with similar symptoms.
How is lymphedema commonly treated?
Lymphedema does not currently have a cure, but its symptoms can be managed.
The gold standard in lymphedema care is complete decongestive therapy (CDT). This approach combines manual lymphatic drainage (a specialized massage), short stretch compression bandaging, and exercise to help reduce swelling and soften fibrotic tissue.
Making Multi-Layer Compression Bandaging Easier
Short stretch compression bandaging takes several steps to complete. Learn more about the different steps in this article on lymphedema bandaging.
One step during bandaging involves placing foam pads to help break up fibrotic (hardening) tissue, open lymphatics, support swelling reduction, and pad concavities and bony prominences.
Swell Spots Can Make This Process Easier
Swell Spots offer a simpler alternative for lymphedema therapists. They can be used instead of cutting and filling individual chip foam bags, allowing you to spend more time focused on your patients.
Additionally, they make bandaging easier for patients at home, thanks to their easy care instructions. The Swell Spots can be put in the washing machine and dryer to clean between uses!
Benefits of Swell Spots
What makes Swell Spots unique?
- Channeling in the Swell Spot fabric is designed to help create tissue stretch and move lymphatic fluid along the lymphatic pathways.
- Cool Core Technology
- Offers 88% faster wicking away of sweat and moisture and 30% more cooling power to keep patients comfortable during wear.
- Unique Designs
- Each SwellSpot is specifically designed for particular areas to address each patient’s needs
- Use under multi-layer bandaging or with compression garments.
- Easy Care Instructions
- Patients can wash them in the washing machine with a normal load of laundry and then machine dry (do not use bleach or fabric softeners).
Compression Garments: Easier Than Bandaging
Depending on a patient’s abilities and the extent of their lymphedema, compression garments may be used in place of bandaging. These garments may also be used after short stretch bandaging to ensure a patient's progress is maintained.
An Alternative for Daytime Lymphedema Management
ReadyWrap offers another option for lymphedema management that’s easier to put on than elastic daywear. It can be used as an alternative or in addition to multi-layer compression bandaging.
Benefits of ReadyWrap
- Variety of garments designed to fit your patient’s lymphedema and edema needs
- Simple to put on using the color-coded strapping system
- Easy to adjust based on daily fluctuations
- Overlap eliminates gapping on toe, foot, calf, knee, and thigh garments
- Overlap also eliminates gapping on the gauntlet and arm garments
- Extender strap available
An Easier Solution for Nighttime Lymphedema Management
Can a patient wear daytime compression garments while sleeping at night?
Patients should not wear daytime compression garments at night. Daytime compression garments are designed to apply the proper level of compression during the day when a person is more active and walking around. At night, you need less compression and stiffness to help reduce swelling. Night garments are designed to apply the correct amount of pressure and are often more comfortable than short stretch bandaging (plus, you don’t run the risk of bandages unraveling).
What is the difference between ready-made and custom compression garments?
There are both ready-made and custom nighttime compression garments. While the custom garments can be tailored to your unique needs, they are also more expensive. They are often best for patients who cannot be accommodated by ready-made size options. Ready-made (off-the-shelf) options, like TributeWrap, offer similar compression at a lower price.
What does the research say about nighttime compression garments?
One study on lymphedema management at night looked at patients from five different countries to determine the benefits of nighttime compression.
The study found that when nighttime compression was NOT used, 89% of patients had an increase in swelling, while all patients reported benefits from using nighttime compression.1
Benefits of TributeWrap
If you’re looking for a nighttime compression garment, check out the TributeWrap.
- Designed for use during the evening and nighttime, including while resting or sleeping
- Chevron channeling helps move lymph fluid to reduce swelling
- Foam padding breaks up and softens fibrotic tissue
- CoolCore technology wicks away sweat and keeps patients cool
- Adjustable straps accommodate daily fluctuations in swelling
Negative Pressure Therapy with LymphaTouch
Another way to help patients manage lymphedema is through negative pressure therapy, which can be done with devices like LymphaTouch. By combining pulsating negative pressure with mechanical vibrations, LymphaTouch helps accelerate lymphatic drainage and relieve swelling caused by lymphedema.
Benefits of LymphaTouch
- Compact size allows for easy transport around your clinic
- Expands and stretches the skin and tissue in safe, effective, and comfortable motions
- Features adjustable functions for a variety of modalities, and provides measurable results post-treatment
- Enhances manual therapy, allowing you to work more efficiently and giving your patients quicker results
While lymphedema does not have a cure, there are many methods and products to help patients manage their symptoms. Complete decongestive therapy (CDT) combines manual lymphatic drainage, short stretch compression bandaging, and exercise to help reduce swelling, while products such as compression garments can help ease swelling throughout the day.
Find the rest of the lymphedema supplies you need from Performance Health!
- Whitaker, JC. (2016). Lymphoedema management at night: views from patients across five countries. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2VcreHO
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Lymphedema. Retrieved from https://mayocl.in/39Vn4Zi
- Lohmann & Rauscher. (n.d.) SwellSpots Brochure. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2vVlEPs
- Lohmann & Rauscher. (n.d.) ReadyWrap Catalog. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2Pge6hj
- Lohmann & Rauscher. (n.d.) TributeWrap Brochure. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2vSWDVm
- OncoLink Team, Branas, A., & Cohn, J. (2020). FAQs About Lymphedema Garments and Bandaging. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/37HkIM0
- Jouanny, S. (2017). The Benefits of Night Garments for Lymphedema. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2v4RKZ9
Medical Disclaimer: The information provided on this site, including text, graphics, images, and other material are for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare professional with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.