Lymph is a colourless fluid that normally drains back into the blood system via a network of small vessels and lymph nodes or "glands". The nodes, situated in the groin and under the arms, as well as in other parts of the body such as the head and neck, filter the lymph and help the body to fight infection. If the system that carries the lymph is interrupted or damaged, this can result in the collection of lymph in the tissues of the body which causes abnormal swelling known as lymphoedema. It mainly affects the arms and legs, but can affect any part of the body where the lymph flow is disrupted.
Although lymphoedema cannot be cured, it can be managed by a combination of elements. St Margaret’s Lymphoedema Team treats cancer and non-cancer related lymphoedema, helping to ease patients’ discomfort and teaching patients how to manage their symptoms; patients are encouraged to participate in supporting their treatment plan.
Treatment for lymphoedema includes paying particular attention to skincare, exercise, simple lymph drainage, and wearing specially designed compression hosiery. Referral for this service is via any health care professional.
Exercise video to help with symptoms of lymphoedema: