May 2002 Edition
This Lymphedema eNews is being generated through your request from our website.
Prevention of Lymphedema
The ReidSleeveŽ RecoveryPlus System is designed for women who have surgery as part of the management of breast cancer. This system is designed to help reduce post-surgical swelling, improve range of motion, strengthen the arm and help reduce the risk of lymphedema. Many doctors prescribe gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to aid in recovery after surgery and the ReidSleeve RecoveryPlus System can help the patient and physician by providing many of the tools needed to help a woman during the reco very period.
Understanding Axillary Dissection and Lymphedema
The axilla or armpit has about 50 to 60 lymph nodes that filter tissue fluid from the breast. The lymph nodes also filter tumor cells that come from a tumor mass in the breast. Residual cancer cells can be harbored in the lymph nodes after removal of the tumor mass within the breast and 10 to 15 lymph nodes are removed to determine if the cancer has spread. The presence or absence of cancer cells within the lymph nodes is an important predictor of whether the cancer has spread within the body. The presence
or absence of tumor cells within the lymph nodes is an important factor in determining the need for additional radiation or chemotherapy.
Prior to surgery measurements of the circumference of the arm and the normal range of motion should be recorded. Commonly, the circumference is determined at the palm, wrist, and 10 centimeters below and 15 centimeters above the elbow; however, many physicians and therapist prefer to obtain additional measurements. Following surgery, arm circumference and range of motion are monitored to evaluate recovery of function.
The doctor or physical therapist will determine the post-operative exercise plan. A common routine is to start light range of motion exercises such as shoulder shrugs and shoulder circles; arm raises and wall-walks after the drains are removed. It is common to feel pain and pulling at the site of the surgical incision. Gentle exercises such as squeezing a soft foam ball and isometrics can help retain and build strength. Stretches are taken to the point where a slight discomfort is felt and held for a few s
econds. Many therapists suggest 10 to 15 repetitions 2 to 3 times a day. If these exercises are tolerated, additional strengthening and stretching exercises.
National Lymphedema Network Conference
The 5th National Lymphedema Network International Conference is once again coming up. Amazing how fast two years go!