NEW LYMPHATIC CARE PROGRAM
The newly established LYMPHATIC CARE PROGRAM welcomes patients with lymphadema. Consult with your NKBCI physician for recommended treatments.
To schedule an appointment with one of the specialists, kindly contact the physical therapy department on 01-315 000, Ext. 6645 or 6648.
- Location: AUBMC, Phase 1 Building, 3rd floor
- Date and Time: Weekdays from 8 am till 6 pm
WHAT IS LYMPHADEMA?
- Lymphedema is a condition that happens when fluid gathers in one spot in your body. It often affects women recovering from breast cancer treatment and may affect your health and your well-being.
- But there are steps to manage symptoms that can make living with lymphedema easier.
- Small adjustments such as eating a healthy diet and adding exercise to your routine can make a big difference.
- Consult with your NKBCI physician for recommended treatments to ease lymphedema.
Symptoms of Lymphedema
The main symptom of lymphedema after breast cancer treatment is swelling of the arm on the side where lymph nodes have been removed.
The amount of swelling may vary.
Some people may have severe swelling (edema) with the affected arm being quite larger than the other arm or a milder form of edema with the affected arm just slightly larger than the other..
Other symptoms may include:
- Swelling of part or all of arm or leg
- Fullness, heaviness, or tightness in the arm, chest, or armpit area
- Bra, clothing, or jewelry that don’t fit like usual
- Aching or new pain in the arm
- Difficulty bending or moving a joint, such as the fingers, wrist, elbow, or shoulder
- Swelling in the hand
- Thickening/hardening of the skin
- Weakness in the arm
Consult with your physician directly if you experience any of these symptoms.
Early treatment prevents lymphedema from getting worse.
How is lymphedema diagnosed?
Your physician will perform a physical exam and take your medical history, checking about:
- Past surgeries
- Any problems after surgeries
- When the swelling started
- History of swelling (edema)
- Medications you’re taking
- Other health conditions : such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes
Imaging tests, measures of volume, blood tests, and other tests may be used to diagnose lymphedema.
Treatment for Lymphedema
Treatment includes approaches to prevent and manage the condition, and may include:
- Lymphatic drainage: Manual to release trapped fluid out of swollen area
- Exercise: Helps you heal properly and regain strength. Using your muscles also helps the lymph fluid circulate and drain like it should. It also helps keep your muscles flexible and helps reduce scarring. Specific exercises will be advised by your doctor or physical therapist..
- Bandages: Wearing a compression sleeve or elastic bandage may help to move fluid, and prevent the buildup of fluid.
- Compression garments: Close-fitting elastic sleeves or stockings can compress the arm or leg to encourage lymph fluid drainage.
- Diet and weight management: A healthy diet and controlling body weight is an important part of treatment. Being obese puts people at higher risk for lymphedema
- Keeping the arm raised: Raising the arm above the level of the heart when possible lets gravity help drain the fluid.
- Preventing infection: It’s important to protect the skin in the affected area from drying, cracking, infection and skin breakdown. Your physician will advise you about how to care for your skin and nails to help prevent problems.
- Elevating affected areas: Whenever you can, keep your affected arm or leg lifted above your heart.
- Lymphatic drainage is a manual massage method used to reduce swelling caused by lymphedema after cancer treatment.
- By gently manipulating specific areas of the body, this type of drainage helps move fluid from a swollen area to another where the lymphatic system is working normally.
- Lymphatic drainage is a manual massage method used to reduce swelling caused by lymph fluid buildup or what is called lymphedema after cancer treatment.
- It is used to relieve lymphedema which often affects women recovering from breast cancer treatment.
- By gently manipulating specific areas of the body, this type of drainage helps move fluid from a swollen area to another where the lymphatic system is working normally, therefore helping to evacuate excess fluid.
- Stuck lymph is rolled out from tissues to lymph nodes to be drained, which helps ease swelling.
Why does Lymphedema happen during breast cancer treatment?
- Lymphedema happens when tissues retain the fluid left behind after the heart sends blood to your tissues and organs.
- The remaining fluid is called lymph. Normally, the lymphatic system collects lymph and returns it to the heart via lymph vessels and lymph nodes. When this process is disrupted, lymph collects in your arms and legs, making them swell.
- In breast cancer surgery, the removal of lymph nodes can disrupt the lymph’s regular flow, which can lead to swelling and lymphedema. It usually affects the arm on the side where lymph nodes have been removed.
- Lymphedema can affect one or both arms, the head and neck, the belly, the genitals, or the legs. Swelling can worsen and become severe.
- Radiotherapy that also targets lymph nodes under the arm -which drain lymphatic vessels from upper arms, the breasts, chest, neck and underarm area- can cause scarring and blockages that further increase the risk of lymphedema.
- When a number of lymph nodes under the arm have been removed, a woman is at a higher risk of lymphedema.
- Lymphedema may occur right after surgery or radiation, or months or even years later.
What is done in lymphatic drainage?
- Depending where your swelling is, you lie down or sit up.
- A specially trained therapist uses targeted skin movements to move fluid out of the swollen area and prepare the area the fluid will move to.
- He/she gently pressures the skin, with slow and rhythmic movements that help open lymph vessels and drain excess fluid.
- The number of sessions you have will depend on the state of your lymphedema.
- A lymphatic drainage massage is usually a two-step process:
Clearing: This step releases lymphatic fluid in your tissues.
Reabsorption: This step moves your lymphatic fluid to your lymph nodes
- The therapist might bandage the area after the drainage session or might ask you to wear compression garments.
Talk to your Dr. and therapist about any changes you notice or not in the state of your swelling.
MEET OUR TEAM
Colette Nassar, PT
LOCATION AND APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING
To schedule an appointment, please call 01/350000 extension 6645 or 6648.
Location: American University of Beirut Medical Center – Main Building PHASE 1 – 3rd floor
Can lymphedema be prevented?
- There is no sure way to prevent lymphedema.
- Women treated for breast cancer who exercise after treatment are less likely to develop lymphedema.
- Exercise helps improve lymph drainage. Specific exercises will be advised by your doctor or physical therapist.
- Newer types of lymph node surgery have also helped decrease lymphedema risk. But there is no sure way to prevent lymphedema.