It can be frustrating to know that no cure exists for lymphedema. But if you're frustrated with the daily bandaging or constant need to protect your affected limb, know that you can control some aspects of lymphedema. To help you cope, try to:
- Find out all you can about lymphedema. Knowing what lymphedema is and what causes it helps you better understand the signs and symptoms you experience. The more you know, the better you can communicate with your doctor or physical therapist.
- Take care of your affected limb. Do your best to prevent complications in your arm or leg. Clean your skin daily, looking over every inch of your affected limb for signs of trouble, such as cracks and cuts. Apply lotion to prevent dry skin.
- Take care of your whole body. Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Exercise daily, if you can. Reduce the stress in your life that you can control. Try to get enough sleep so that you wake up refreshed each morning. Taking care of your body gives you more energy, encourages healing and helps you control your lymphedema.
- Get support from others with lymphedema. Whether you attend support group meetings in your community or participate in online message boards and chat rooms, it helps to talk to people who understand what you're going through. Contact the National Lymphedema Network to find support groups in your area. They can also put you in touch with other people with lymphedema with whom you can connect via email or letter.
If you feel frustrated or overwhelmed by lymphedema, talk to your doctor or other health care provider about how you feel. He or she may be able to address your concerns.
Nov. 15, 2011
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- Creager MA, et al. Vascular diseases of the extremities. In: Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed. Accessed Aug. 25, 2011.
- Mohler ER. Lymphedema: Etiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 25, 2011.
- Lawenda BD, et al. Lymphedema: A primer on the identification and management of a chronic condition in oncologic treatment. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2009;59:8.