There are several steps in the protocol to manage and treat lymphedema. The most important step in order to decrease the amount of lymphedema is the use of lymphatic drainage massage. Once the lymphatic drainage massage portion of the treatment plan has been completed, the therapist will advise the patient to get fitted for a compressive sleeve in order to prevent the reoccurrence of the swelling along with periodical upkeep massage treatments.
Many clients will ask what is the difference between a fitted garment and one of the over-the-counter ones?
A custom-made garment will definitely be much more expensive, but there is a reason for the difference in price. A custom-made garment will be measured to the needs of the individual person and the anatomical requirements. Not only is the size of the garment adjusted, but so is the amount of compression and the areas of compression adapted to each individual. The goal of the lymphatic drainage massage is to stimulate the lymphatic flow back towards the heart. The custom-made garments will have a flow or pattern to the compression, pushing the fluid along, towards the subclavian veins. An over-the-counter garment will have a pressure that is directed inwards, squeezing the fluid towards the inside rather than in the direction of flow. This compression may cause strangulation, which can result in a “hardening” of the fluid, further increasing the lymphedema and making it more difficult to treat.
Your lymphatic drainage massage therapist can definitely suggest qualified places to have a compression garment made. There are several places in the greater Montreal area that specialize in this type of garment.
When a person has lymphedema in a limb, there are many changes that will occur in the actual limb. The skin will begin to expand to accommodate the increase in pressure caused by the excess fluid. If left untreated, this can continue as a vicious cycle until the limb becomes very large. If the garment is measured before lymphatic drainage massage has effectively treated the lymphedema and decreased the size of the limb, it will be adapted to the larger version of the limb and not to the size it should be.
Once there has been lymphedema in a limb, the skin has stretched in order to regulate the extra pressure from the fluid. The garment helps to put pressure on the limb to repel extra fluid because since the skin has already expanded, it will remain to be an area of decreased pressure and the bodily fluid will always prefer to deposit there. Wearing the garment regularly will prevent the lymphedema from returning by keeping the pressure gradient regular.