Finding a lymphedema Specialist
An individual diagnosed with lymphedema has to undergo treatment to control or reduce the symptoms since the condition is never completely curable. The lymphedema specialist is one who is trained to offer special therapy consisting of manual lymph drainage, bandaging and an exercise regimen to reduce the swelling happening due to lymphedema. Therapists are healthcare professionals who are specially trained to perform the massage involved in manual lymph drainage. They can also provide the patient necessary guidance with compression bandaging and garments, as well as skin care precautions and exercises.
Lymphedema needs to be managed before it gets out of hand. Usually the doctor will create a plan for your treatment to reduce the pooling of fluids and bring down the swelling. However, your own participation in this plan is extremely important for successful therapy. If your arm is affected, use your arm as much as possible to complete routine tasks like combing the hair, dressing, washing or eating. For leg lymphedema, you can do the exercises that have been taught to you by your therapist. The idea is to keep the lymphatic fluids in circulation so that there is no pooling effect to cause a swelling in the affected body part.
There are other general precautions that a person at risk of lymphedema can take. Avoiding alcohol and smoking helps to keep the body energetic and healthy. Maintaining an ideal weight ensures that your weakened lymphatic system does not have to strain to maintain the drainage. Controlling the blood sugars if you have diabetes is essential to reduce the risk of damaging the blood vessels. It is imperative not to overdo any physical activity to the point of fatigue. You can also take your lymphedema specialist’s advice if you intend to travel long distances by air. He may advise you to wear a compression sleeve depending on your symptoms and will also help you with the fitting of the garment.
Physiatrists are doctors who are specialists in treating pain and injuries without using surgical treatments. They are also known as rehabilitation specialists because their specialty is to restore the lost functioning of any limb that has been injured or has a disability. Being trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation, physiatrists also work towards the prevention of the ailment. In case of lymphedema, just as it is important to treat the condition, it is equally important to prevent a recurrence of the symptoms. The lymphedema therapist tries to achieve both these goals. Generally, a physiatrist is well qualified to treat lymphedema, although he or she may additionally train for the special technique of the lymphedema massage.
The complex nature of the lymphedema condition may, at times make it difficult for a single health care professional to deal with the disease. Therefore, it becomes necessary to have a team or panel of doctors that can prescribe the right treatment. Often, lymphedema patients are cancer survivors, so an oncologist is always in the picture. Recurring infections due to the vulnerability of the lymphatic system are very common. Hence, an infectious diseases expert is required. If wounds and ulcers are a problem, they need to be looked at by a doctor specializing in wound treatment. The service of a physical therapist is essential for the massages and of course, the family physician is also a part of the team. The lymphedema specialists’ team should, however, work together with the aim of treating the lymphedema patient. The doctors should be aware of the delicate state of the patient’s immune system and general health and plan a course of treatment accordingly.
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