Causes and types of LymphoedemaThis may be due to cancer treatment, such as breast removal (mastectomy) leading to secondary lymphoedema. The swelling does not always start immediately following radiation or surgical treatment. It can develop days, weeks, months or even years after this treatment has taken place. This may occur following types of cancer removal surgery, such as melanoma, colon, prostate or bladder cancer. The condition may develop following trauma or infection. The condition can also be present from birth (primary lymphoedema), or may develop at any time during the course of life, usually affecting the arms and legs. The underlying causes are not completely understood by scientists.
What to expectAn appointment usually starts with a light massage over the affected area. This is followed by specific rubbing, strokes, taps or pushes to the skin. These strokes are in the direction that the fluid naturally flows, to enhance movement towards the heart. Sessions typically last 45-60 minutes, however one limb could be treated within a 30 minute appointment (not recommended). Research has suggested that in cases of lymphedema, it is better to have treatment performed once per day for 4-5 days for two weeks. The first week of treatment reduces the swelling, while the second week has a stabilising effect.
When should this treatment be postponed?
- Sudden increase in swelling without a known cause. Your doctor or other health care professional such as an Osteopath can assess.
- In the event of a sudden onset of lymphangitis, this in an infection and needs to clear prior to you having this treatment.
- Patients with congestive heart failure. This is a specific condition that is diagnosed by a doctor.
- When pain is present, postpone treatment, get seen by a health professional and wait until the discomfort subsides.