Lymphedema bandages may be discomforting at first, but these are essential in treating lymphedema. Lymphedema causes the swelling of the limbs due to fluid retention in the tissues. Since no cure is available, patients will have to deal with physical therapy and medication to reduce the swelling. Part of the comprehensive treatment patients have to undergo is using compression garments or bandages. These provide pressure to the limbs and encourage better lymph circulation.
There are two types of compression used in the treatment: elastic and non-elastic. Elastic compression can be adjusted to suit limb movement. One disadvantage though is that the patient may not always need the same amount of pressure, which may lead to circulation restriction. On the other hand, non-elastic compression does not adjust to the limb’s volume and movement. Since these can’t accommodate change, the patient may have a hard time moving around.
Compression bandages belong to the elastic type of compression. However, these can be further divided into two: short-stretch bandages and long-stretch bandages. Short -stretch bandages are preferred over long-stretch bandages because they produce the necessary tension needed to reduce the swelling. Long-stretch bandages however, may provide too much elasticity. So when the patients move, they loosen the bandage’s grip on the limb, causing less resistance for the lymph to press against.
Compression bandages must be used even at night during sleep. It is also very important that these shall be used during flights since low cabin pressure may aggravate the swelling caused by the disease. Normally, a second bandage is applied before flight to increase the pressure.
Bandages must be cleaned regularly not just for hygienic reasons but also to maintain the elasticity of the bandages. These should be handwashed as much as possible. Also, these should be changed regularly. The patients are often taught on how to put the bandages by themselves because during sleep and travel, the bandages must be adjusted to suit their condition.
Though bandages relatively cause discomfort, it shouldn’t be a very painful experience. Once pain is present when bandages are applied, the patient must immediately tell the therapist or doctor.
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