Compression garments and sleeves are designed to apply pressure on the site affected by lymphedema. It can be the arms, hand, or trunk.
When arms are affected, wearing a lymphedema sleeve can help in keeping the lymph, the protein-rich fluid, moving in the right direction.
About Compression Garments
All of these compression garments are made of flexible fabric. If you're wearing a lymphedema sleeve, you'll notice that the sleeves are tighter at the bottom than at the top. They are designed this way to create a graded pressure. This kind of pressure helps in keeping the lymph moving out of the arm.
There are some compression garments that utilize the healing power of infrared therapy. It's a proven method for healing and regenerating the body. In fact, there are doctors and physical therapists who prescribe the use of heat lamps to heal sports-related injuries, skin inflammation, and to provide pain relief from conditions like arthritis and neuralgia.
When is the right time to wear a lymphedema sleeve?
Wearing a lymphedema sleeve will be more likely recommended to you if you have mild lymphedema. It can be at stage 0 where there are no visible changes yet on your skin but you're starting to notice mild tingling or slight heaviness.
Wearing a lymphedema sleeve is also recommended if you're in stage 1. It's the lymphedema stage where you start noticing the swelling on your arm.
When you're at stage 2 or stage 3, you have to undergo the complete decongestive therapy (CDT) first before you can start wearing a lymphedema sleeve. This treatment program aims to bring down the swelling on your arm.
There are certain things you need to consider if you're thinking of using compression sleeves:
Make sure to get your lymphedema sleeve from a reputable company.
Getting your lymphedema sleeve from a reputable company ensures quality and durability.
Consider getting two lymphedema sleeves.
Your lymphedema sleeve will get dirty. Getting two lymphedema sleeves is a good choice as you can alternate them for washings.
Replace your compression garments every 3 to 6 months.
Your compression garments will eventually lose their elasticity. Using loose compression garments will not be effective in promoting the flow of the lymph. So, make sure to replace them on a regular basis.
Wearing a lymphedema sleeve alone will not treat your lymphedema. Hence, on top of using the compression garments, it's best to seek guidance for the necessary lifestyle changes and for additional treatment.
Image: Gareth Williams via Flickr