Lymphedema is the abnormal swelling that is caused by a build up of lymph fluid and most commonly occurs in the arms and in the legs.
According to the World Health Organization there are over 170 million people world wide who suffer from secondary lymphedema. It affects approximately 15% of all cancer survivors and an estimated 30% of those treated for breast cancer after surgery to remove lymph nodes.
The onset of lymphedema can occur during treatments, days, months or years after the treatment protocol is completed.
Unfortunately lymphedema cannot be cured but it can be managed by employing some or all of the following strategies to encourage movement of the lymph fluid:
- Dead layers of skin being removed and pores unclogged
- Blood circulation increased to the internal organs and the skin, which promotes oxygenation and healing
- The detoxification qualities of the skin maintained
- Hormone and oil-producing glands being stimulated
- Nerve endings stimulated in the skin helping to maintain the health of the entire nervous system
- Muscle tone assisted and fat deposits more evenly spread
How to Perform a Dry Brush Massage
Use a natural bristle brush with a brush pad about the size of your own hand
Start with the soles of your feet. Brush in a circular motion as you move up your body brushing feet to legs, hands to arms, back to abdomen, and chest to neck. You don’t need to apply a lot of pressure. Just enough to make your skin feel warm, about 5-10 minutes. The massage is best performed when you wake in the morning and before you go to bed at night.
Alternating hot and cold showers improves blood circulation, increases cellular oxidation, enhances immunity, strengthens the nervous system and flushes cellular toxins into the blood.
When we shower in hot water for less than five minutes, it has a stimulating effect on our circulation. When we have a cold shower for less than one minute, we stimulate blood flow and metabolism. Cold showers first constrict and then dilate blood vessels. When we finish with a cold shower the following physiological effects happen:
- Increased oxygen absorption
- Increased tissue tone
- Increased white blood cell count improving immunity
- Increased red blood cell count
- Decreased blood glucose
- Heightened metabolism
A rebounder a small trampoline. Jumping on a rebounder 5-10 minutes a day improves the circulation of lymphatic fluid. Muscular contractions push the fluid through the lymphatic vessels. When the muscular contraction is used in combination with deep breathing, lymphatic circulation is enhanced even more. This improves the body’s cancer-fighting ability.
Additional benefits of rebounding include:
- Gentle massage of the internal organs, including the liver and colon
- Improved muscle tone
- Improved digestion, elimination and body detoxification
- Burning calories
- Increased energy
- Improvement in cardiovascular health
- Stress reduction
Exercising, of all kinds, causes muscle contractions encouraging the flow of lymph fluid. Exercising also:
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Helps manage weight
- Improves mitochondrial health
- Reduces stress
- Improves muscle tone
Lymphatic drainage massage stimulates the circulation of blood and lymph, moving tissue fluid into the lymph vessels from the tissues.
As a result, lymph drainage massage can help remove toxins and wastes from the tissues. Increased lymph flow will also help with immunity, reduce the risk of infection, and speed the healing of inflammation.
Lymphedema Compression Bandages
Compression bandages help to limit the amount of fluid building up in the limb. When functioning without limitation, there is a constant flow of fluid from the tiny blood vessels into the tissues. This fluid will then be drained by the lymph system. For those with lymphedema, wearing a compression garment reduces excessive or unnecessary flow of fluid from the bloodstream into the tissues.
Lymphedema compression sleeves encourage the fluid within the affected limb to move towards the body where it can drain away more easily. Compression sleeves have a graduated compression, with more at the hand or foot than at the top of the garment. This directs the fluid to the root of the limb which is either the groin or armpit.
Finally compression garments provide the muscles with a firm resistance to work against improving the function of the lymphatic system and encourage the movement of fluid along the lymph routes.
Your routine for lymphedema management:
1) Make a daily practice out of dry brush massage
2) Have a contrast shower daily
3) Use a rebounder four hours weekly; 5 – 30 minutes once or twice daily
4) Exercise approximately 4 hours per week
5) Routinely go for lymphatic massages
6) Wear a compression bandage daily