As the scientific community continues to learn more about lymphedema treatment and management, there have been exciting new studies showing the effectiveness of wearing compression sleeves and gloves to manage and even potentially prevent this condition. In this post, we’ll cover the basics of lymphedema management via compression, as well as the latest research related to this type of treatment.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema occurs when the normal flow of lymph is disrupted and builds up in an area of the body, resulting in tissue swelling. It’s caused by damage to the body’s lymphatic vessels and is a common condition following breast cancer treatment involving lymph node removal. Lymphedema can occur immediately after surgery or even many years after the operation.
How Does Compression Help Manage Lymphedema?
Compression garments, Like Enerskin Compression, apply pressure to keep lymph moving in the right direction, reducing the swelling and pain that occurs from lymphedema. The pressure applied must be graduated, which means that the compression garment has its strongest compression at the ends. This is key in moving fluids away from the areas where they are accumulating.
Typically, compression garments are recommended in treating more minor cases of lymphedema (stage 0 or 1) and maintaining the results of more aggressive treatment methods of stage 2 or 3 lymphedema. In any case, prior to any treatment of lymphedema, make sure you’ve fully consulted with your lymphedema therapist, who is best equipped to diagnose and treat the condition.
Compression’s Role in Prevention: A Study
In a recent study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (JPSM), researchers looked into compression’s role in helping prevent lymphedema symptoms following breast cancer treatment that included lymph node procedures. Women who regularly wore compression sleeves (15-21 mmHg) in the study had less swelling a month after their procedures. Even more encouraging, less arm swelling from lymphedema occurred in this group 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and even 12 months after the operations.
Types of Compression for Lymphedema
In the case of managing lymphedema following breast cancer treatment, common compression garments used include arm sleeves, compression gloves, and support bras and vests. Arm sleeves cover parts of the upper and lower arms. Compression gloves are typically fingerless gloves that are worn on the hands. Support bras and vests can help with lymphedema in the chest and breast following breast cancer surgery.
Wearing Compression for Lymphedema
Before you purchase compression garments to manage lymphedema, consult your lymphedema therapist on which garments to purchase, how often to wear them, and how to correctly size them for good fit. Your lymphedema therapist may ask you to wear compression daily, or only during certain times, such as during athletic activity or air travel. Your lymphedema therapist may also recommend that you wear compression gloves if you do wear compression sleeves, as a precaution in preventing lymphedema in your hands.
Enerskin E75: Medical Grade Compression
Enerskin is proud to offer medical-grade compression garments with graduated compression. Our E75 line of compression garments offers compression levels of 20-30 mmHg (medical grade 1). The E75 is also one of the only lines of compression garments on the market to receive the FDA’s Class II approval. Our performance data was gathered through public health trials and rehabilitation research centers in the United States and South Korea.
Enerskin’s E75 Elbow Compression Sleeves were developed for dynamic, intense, or repetitive arm movements with key support for the critical muscles and tendons surrounding the elbow. These include the triceps, biceps, and forearms. Enerskin’s E75 Long Sleeve Compression Shirt provides compression to your entire upper body, including key areas such as the chest and forearms.
Lymphedema, while painful and potentially debilitating, is a condition that can be successfully treated. Compression garments help manage this condition, and they are part of a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes exercise, skin care, and a healthy diet.