Lymphedema Compression Garments Guide
Posted by Richard Miller on Aug 8th 2022
If you are not familiar with lymphedema, it is a condition in which the lymphatic fluid builds up due to damage or blockage within the lymph system. When this occurs, noticeable fluid retention can be seen in different areas of the body. It is especially common to see lymphatic fluid buildup in the legs or arms. In any case, lymphedema is a very common condition that affects millions of people around the world every year.
Fortunately, lymphedema is generally not considered to be a highly serious condition — as long as you are diagnosed and pursue treatment. However, if your condition is left untreated for years, the dysfunction of the lymphatic system can lead to even more serious issues within the immune or circulatory systems. In some cases, untreated lymphedema can even be deadly.
That said, there are many non-invasive treatment options available to people who suffer from lymphedema. While there is no precise cure, there are devices, wraps, and lifestyle changes that can help reduce symptoms and, in some cases, even cause the condition to go away with time. It all depends on the severity of your condition and how diligent you are with your treatment regimen. So, in today’s guide, we will look at the beneficial application of compression garments in the treatment of lymphedema.
Why Compression Garments Are Used For Lymphedema
The primary symptoms of lymphedema are swelling, frequently accompanied by pain, discomfort, and potentially even mobility issues in the affected area. Due to the buildup of lymphatic fluids in the arms or legs, the soft tissue becomes tender and inflamed. Consequently, one of the most reliable treatment options to help promote comfort and reduce negative symptoms is the application of lymphedema garments.
Lymphedema products can vary from self-applied wraps and bandages to predesigned compression socks and stockings. The right compression therapy for lymphedema depends on the severity of your condition, as well as your ability to participate in certain types of physical activity. However, the vast majority of lymphedema cases only call for compression devices to help reduce swelling.
It is important to note that compression garments work by applying pressure to the affected area(s). Not only does this reduce pain and swelling, but it also stimulates the flow of both blood and lymphatic fluids. This prevents the short-term symptoms associated with lymphedema, and can actually work to reduce long-term fluid accumulation. As a result, many doctors recommend the use of compression garments, sometimes in conjunction with physical therapy, exercise, and massage.
Regardless of the severity of your condition, your doctor will likely prescribe some kind of compression garment or gear. However, this does not mean that you can just put on your compression socks or sleeves and call it a day. If you have a more severe case of lymphedema, you may have to make changes to your diet, take part in physical therapy, do daily stretches and exercises, and get professional massages to reduce swelling. However, most cases can be managed with the regular use of compression wear and minor physical therapy.
Lymphedema sleeves and wraps offer patients a great way to have complete control over the pressure applied to areas of the body with fluid build-up. Compression sleeves for lymphedema are usually applied to the upper arm and can be adjusted to apply different degrees of pressure based on your needs and comfort level. Alternatively, compression wraps for lymphedema can be applied to both the arms or legs.
Lymphedema leg wraps come in various designs; some have straps that can be set using clasps or velcro, while others are more traditional wraps that are made of a simpler, stretchable fabric. Regardless of the style you choose, you can rest easy knowing that there are many different lymphedema products for legs.
Though wraps can be used for the arms, it is more common to apply lymphedema arm sleeves to the upper or lower arms. In some cases, they can even be applied at the joint of the elbow, assuming that there is a build-up of fluid or inflammation in that area. Either way, a compression sleeve for arms ensures that you can manage your lymphedema symptoms in your upper body and, hopefully, see a significant reduction of liquid retention over time.
Lymphedema Compression Stockings
Lymphedema socks and stockings provide the kind of coverage you need to greatly reduce the symptoms of the condition, even if they appear in multiple places throughout your legs. However, it is important to note that most types of compression socks for lymphedema go no higher than the knee. As a result, they are best reserved for people who experience lymphatic fluid retention in the calves and ankles. That said, you can find some standard compression socks that go all the way up to the thigh.
If you have liquid retention above the knee, it is usually best to find a strong pair of stockings for lymphedema. Thigh-high stockings often provide light to moderate degrees of pressure, while also being virtually invisible to others. You can wear them with pants, shorts, or dresses, and they will appear similar to pantyhose. In any case, stockings offer some of the most comprehensive support for lymphedema patients, particularly if you experience widespread liquid build-up or discomfort in multiple parts of the leg (or legs).
Short-stretch bandages are perhaps the simplest form of compression wear for lymphedema. This material usually comes in rolls and is similar to what you would use to support a sprained ankle. However, these bandages are specifically designed to apply pressure based on how tightly you wrap them. Like wraps, this gives you even greater control over how much pressure you want to have at any given time.
If you just want a short-term solution to liquid build-up, a compression bandage for lymphedema is probably your best solution. Once you use up the roll of fabric, you can buy more as needed. Alternatively, if you believe that you will need lymphedema supplies for the long-term (as many patients do), you may want to opt for a more permanent solution, like compression socks, sleeves, or stockings.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, compression garments are one of the best treatment options for people suffering from lymphedema. The different design options and even varied pressure levels ensure that your condition does not cause you excessive pain or discomfort. Additionally, extended use of compression wear — in conjunction with any directives from your doctor — can actually work to reduce the severity of your lymphedema.
We know that it can feel disheartening to have a condition that causes daily discomfort and has no “magic pill” cure. However, you can live a much more comfortable life with the help of compression garments. Not only are they easy to put on and take off (especially with doffing and donning accessories), but they can also greatly improve your quality of life. In short, by using the right type of compression wear, you can have greater mobility, less pain, less swelling, and significantly reduced liquid retention.
We hope you found this guide on lymphedema compression garments both useful and informative! Are you currently in the market for compression socks or other compression wear? If so, be sure to reach out to Compression Health today!