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1) Meticulous skin care to prevent infections:
Any break in the skin can be an avenue for bacteria to enter. Be aware of any break or trauma to the skin. This can be in the form of a cut, needle stick, burn, pet scratch, etc. Clean the area with soap and water or alcohol, apply a bacterial ointment and a band aid. Watch the area closely for increased swelling, heat, pain or redness. If the symptoms worsen, contact you physician immediately as you might need an antibiotic.
2) Manual Lymph Drainage/MLD:
Manual lymph drainage is a very gentle form of massage performed with a specific pressure in a specific direction which stimulates the flow of the lymph. It is through this specialized treatment technique that the lymph is re-routed from a congested area, where the lymph system has been impaired, to an area where the system is still intact. This in effect facilitates the opening of alternative pathways of lymph flow.
3) Compression Therapy:
Manual lymph drainage alone is not enough to achieve a reduction in edema. During the reduction phase of treatment, it is necessary that the limb be bandaged. The bandages utilized are not “Ace” (long stretch/elastic) bandages but short stretch/non-elastic bandages. They have a low resting pressure and a high working pressure. These bandages will not constrict the limb and are safe to wear for long periods of time. The bandaging is necessary to prevent fluid reaccumulation in the tissue spaces and to improve the efficiency of the muscle/joint pumps. Foam or other padding materials may be utilized under the bandages to soften fibrotic or hard tissue. Training in bandaging is provided to the patient and/or family members.
Each patient is provided with an individualized exercise program designed to facilitate lymph drainage, improve strength, flexibility and endurance. The exercises are done with compression on the limb and are coordinated with breathing.