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Byline: Dr Miriam Stoppard

What is it? Lymphoedema is an accumulation of fluid in the lymphatic vessels, causing painless swelling of a limb. It can result from damage to the normal drainage of the lymph due to blockage, scarring or removal of lymph glands in cancer surgery.

Most commonly, lymphoedema is caused by surgery or radiotherapy to the arm in the treatment of breast cancer and in the leg after treatment of ovarian cancer. The skin over the affected limb often becomes rough and thickened.

You should get in contact with your doctor immediately if you injure a limb which has been affected by lymphoedema, even if it seems trivial, because serious infection is a possible complication.

Lymphoedema may appear out of the bl e and fo easons e of the blue and, for reasons we still don't understand, it affects twice as many women as men. What's the treatment? ? Lymphoedema is for life, so any treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms. Sufferers are advised to keep the affected limb elevated and wear an elastic stocking or sleeve.

Treatment consists of taking diuretic drugs, massage, wearing a compression sleeve, and performing exercises with the limb elevated.

Lymphatic drainage massage by a specially trained nurse can bring relief, if only temporary.

Massage encourages the tissues to expel excess fluid back into the blood vessels and out of the body.

Most aromatherapists are trained to carry out lymphatic drainage.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 4, 2012
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