What is Lymphoedema?
Lymphoedema is failure of the lymphatic system which gives rise to swelling, skin and tissue changes and a predisposition to infection. It most commonly affects the lower or upper limbs but may also affect midline structures such as the head and neck, trunk, breasts or genitalia.
Watch this short video to learn more about the condition.
Lymphoedema and Covid vaccine guidance
We advise you to continue, where possible, with self-management techniques as directed. For further information please see the web links below.
Please contact your GP surgery for renewal of current garments as necessary.
Please see the following advice to help you self-care during this time.
Follow these five core principles:
It is possible that our Lymphoedema Therapists will not be able to see you to re- measure for your garments in a timely manner during the crisis period. Please take extra care of your current garments to ensure they last as long as possible, and if you have older garments please hold onto these to see you over this crisis period.
We recommend that you wash your garments according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It may be possible to request a repeat of the last prescription from your GP without seeing the lymphoedema team. This would only be appropriate if you feel your limb(s) has not changed considerably in size/shape.
2. Skin Care
Please keep your skin and tissues in good condition, continue to use the cream you usually use or a bland emollient. This will help to prevent/reduce the risk of skin breakdown (such as athlete's foot) and reduces the risk of infection (Cellulitis).
Cellulitis is an infection of the skin. Look out for redness, swelling and heat, with associated pain and tenderness in ONE arm or leg, which may be accompanied by fever, nausea/vomiting and a feeling of generally being unwell. People with lymphoedema are particularly susceptible to cellulitis.
What should I do if I develop Cellulitis?
Contact your doctor immediately as you will need antibiotic treatment. This is very important and should be considered an emergency. It should not be delayed even in view of the current healthcare crisis. If you are seriously ill, you may require admission to hospital for intra-venous antibiotics.
If you have previously had cellulitis you may have been advised to keep oral antibiotics at home. In case you suspect cellulitis please start taking the antibiotics but please also seek medical advice.
If you suspect cellulitis please follow the following advice:
- Continue to wear compression garments unless the pain is too severe. If this is the case return to wearing hosiery as soon as it can be tolerated again
- Discontinue Simple Lymphatic Drainage Massage and exercise until the infection is improving
- Rest your leg/arm in a comfortable position
- Keep hydrated
- Paracetamol may be taken
Please keep up with your regular exercise routine. If you have compression garments that are worn out or poorly fitting the extra focus on exercise can be even more beneficial. An increase in your exercises may even compensate for your garments. Even if you are self-isolating or social distancing you can exercise indoors or take a walk as able/indicated.
Get moving with lymphoedema - Why is it important to keep active when you have lymphoedema or chronic oedema?
Specific exercises - Get moving with lymphoedema
4. Simple Lymphatic Drainage SLD Massage
Please continue to carry out the Simple Lymphatic Drainage SLD as instructed by your Lymphoedema Therapist.
Some patients find that elevation helps with increased swelling, this is variable. But if your swelling does increase try resting on the bed in the afternoon if possible, to help drain the legs, or elevating the arm on a pillow when resting.
"Our aim is to empower users to self-manage their condition. People using the Lymphoedema service seem to really benefit from the many treatment options we have available.”
Heike Fraser, Lymphoedema Therapy Team Leader
You may also be interested in:
> Complementary Therapy
> Day Therapy Unit
is raising awareness of Lipoedema in the UK and currently working with the Royal College of General Practitioners to train doctors, nurses and all healthcare professionals to recognise and diagnose the condition. Lipoedema UK provides resource packs containing medically verified materials essential for anyone studying or treating patients with Lipoedema.
Lymphoedema Support Network
(LSN) takes the lead role in educating and supporting other patients with this condition by providing a high standard of information and promoting self-help. Since it's inception in 1991, when there was very little information or help available for patients, the LSN has evolved into an independent and influential charity. It is the only national patient-led organisation offering information and support to people with this condition and has a unique understanding of the patients' experience.
NHS - Lipoedema
is a long-term (chronic) condition typically involving an abnormal build up of fat cells in the legs, thighs and buttocks. The condition occurs almost exclusively in women, although there have been rare cases reported in men.
NHS - Lymphoedema
is a chronic (long term) condition that causes swelling in the body's tissues. It can affect any part of the body but usually, develops in the arms or legs. Other symptoms of lymphoedema can include an aching, heavy feeling in affected body parts and difficulty moving them. Lymphoedema can get worse if it's not treated, so you should speak to a doctor if you think you may have the condition.
NHS Healthy Eating Site
helps put you in charge of your health care.
The British Lymphology Society BLS commenced in November 1985 and was originally called the British Lymphology Interest Group (BLIG). Since 1985 BLS has celebrated it's 30 year anniversary in 2015 and has grown in both member and it's involvement in matters relating to lymphology. This has led BLS to comment on a number of documents relating to Lymphoedema and was even part of a House of Lords debate on lymphoedema in September 2015. BLS continues to be a thriving and innovative charity that had delivered education for over 30 years. Their main education event is the annual conference, which is supported by the society's objectives:
- To advance education and knowledge in the field of lymphology and related subjects.
- To foster interest in and co-ordinate a strategy for improving the management of chronic oedema, particularly lymphoedema.
- To produce and maintain a register of specialist centres in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
- To benefit patients by improving the knowledge, expertise and skills of health care professionals.