What you should know About lymphedema Compression Sleeves
Lymphedema compression sleeves are an essential part of the Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT) – the standard and accepted treatment for lymphedema. These are elasticized sleeves or stretch garments that are custom fitted for your arm and can be used to manage the swelling. A compression sleeve can be worn daily or while performing exercises and during air travel. Sometimes people prefer to use them at night in place of bandages or wrappings. There is a wide range of compression sleeves available and you can find the best option that is appropriate and suits your personal preferences.
Different fabrics and colors are being used in making compression sleeves. Arm sleeves come in a variety of lengths including the ones which cover only the arm or those that extend to the palm. In case of lymphedema of the hand, fingerless gloves and gauntlets are available. Occasionally slipping on a tight sleeve may require some effort. In such a case, you can use a lotion that helps to pull on the sleeve quite easily. Water-soluble adhesive lotion applied under the top edge of the compression sleeve will prevent it from slipping down and rendering it ineffective.
The most common type of lymphedema compression sleeve is like a sheer panty hose made from nylon. It can be used to manage moderate lymphedema and extends from the upper arm to the wrist. Patients prefer the nylon sleeve as it is comfortable and discreet. Other options include sleeves made from natural fibers like silk. A silk compression sleeve is more durable compared to the nylon one. Microfiber is another fabric being used in making compression sleeves. The fabric is of the ‘breathable’ kind to keep you cool and comfortable. The microfiber sleeve is suited for strong compression needs and is bulkier than the nylon sleeve. It is available in trendy designs and does not look like a medical aid.
While looking for a lymphedema sleeve, make sure to find one that fits your arm properly or you may have skin irritation that may aggravate the swelling. In terms of practicality, it is worthwhile to buy two compression sleeves which can be used alternatively. Washing the sleeve after two to three days of usage and drying them flat will make them last longer. Usually, the sleeve needs to be replaced every six months as it gets stretched and its effectiveness is reduced. You can take the assistance of a therapist to help you find a compression sleeve that fits you well. You may also want to get a prescription for the compression sleeve from the doctor so that your medical insurance can take care of the cost.
Bandages can be used by the patient as an alternative method to provide compression. However, wrapping of the bandages in the correct manner requires training and practice. The compression sleeve is easier to wear and less time consuming. Bandages applied correctly are quite effective in reducing the swelling and maintaining the reduction.
With lymphedema compression sleeves, patients have another convenient option besides the bandage wrappings to manage the condition. Apart from maintaining the reduction in swelling, the sleeve helps in moving the fluid for removal. The sleeves are helpful to manage fibrosis as well. Proper fitting of compression sleeves is crucial to the effectiveness of the treatment; nowadays, specially trained personnel help you with the compression garment at the time of purchase. Continuous research and development in the field of lymphedema products has led to the designing of compression sleeves that match the pattern of the lymph flow to stimulate it towards the right direction.
Lymphedema: Managing lymphedema - Where to go from here ...