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Lymphedema is the chronic, or continuous, swelling in a part of the body that may occur after cancer surgery or radiation. Lymphedema is caused by the buildup of fluid that does not properly drain when the lymph nodes are removed during cancer treatment. The condition can happen years after cancer treatment. While there is no cure, there are ways to prevent it and reduce the symptoms.

The most common treatment is a form of therapy performed by certified physical therapists. During the therapy treatment, manual massage may be used to move the fluid out of areas which it is collecting. Compression garments, such as sleeves, gloves, stockings, or others, may also be used to compress the body part and prevent fluid collection. These garments would be a lifelong treatment and may be worn during the day or full time.

To prevent lymphedema if you have not already developed the condition and are at risk, consider the following tips. These should become integrated as daily habits to reduce your chance of the condition and an associated risk of infection with fluid collection.

  • Don’t wear tight sleeves, cuffs, watches, or jewelry that could constrict your skin.
  • Trim your fingernails and do not pick at either the skin or nails.
  • Do not carry heavy items with that arm

Click here to learn more about lymphedema and the symptoms that you may see with the condition.

Click here to learn more about Touro’s Cancer Rehabilitation Program and read patients’ testimonials who went through lymphedema therapy.