Lymphedema is a common complication of lymph node resection during breast cancer treatment, and can be helped through physiotherapy.
What is Lyphedema?
Lymphedema is a condition in which fluid accumulates into the tissues of a limb, making the limb swell and become heavy. It is a common chronic complication of lymph node resection (removal). It happens when the normal function of the lymphatic (drainage system) pathways is interrupted by surgery and or radiation in cancer treatment. It can cause pain, discomfort, decreased mobility, and cellulitis. There is no cure for lymphedema.
Cancer patients that have had axillary (arm pit) lymph node dissection (common in breast cancer) or inguinal lymph node dissection (in melanoma) are at risk of developing lymphedema. Additional risks include obesity (body mass index (BMI) > 30), immobility, trauma to the limb, and infection.
Trained physiotherapists in cancer rehab can help reduce the risk of developing lymphedema with education on skin care; limb measurement monitoring; scar and axillary web syndrome treatment; exercise and movement rehab programs including aerobic; flexibility and resistive training; massage; and psychological support.
Bandaging and compression garments can also be a part of lymphedema management.
Learn More About Treating Lymphedema with Physiotherapy
Physiotherapist Evelyn Laroche can help you understand the risk factors, what to look for, and what to do to prevent or quickly start treatment, if lymphedema develops is essential. Staying active with good mobility and maintaining a normal body weight are also very important. Physiotherapy can help!!