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Managing Lymphedema: How Aquatic Physiotherapy can support patients and its management.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an abnormal buildup of protein-rich fluid in any part of the body as a result of malfunction in the lymphatic system. You can be born with it (primary lymphedema) or develop it as a result of damage to the lymphatic system, such as after surgery or infection (secondary lymphedema).

Who can Lymphedema affect?

Lymphedema can occur in a variety of patients, including:

  1. Cancer survivors: Individuals who have undergone cancer treatment, particularly surgery and radiation therapy, may develop lymphedema due to damage to the lymphatic system. Breast cancer survivors are especially at risk, but lymphedema can also occur in patients with other types of cancer, such as melanoma or gynecological cancers.

  2. Those with a family history: Lymphedema can be hereditary, meaning it runs in families. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing the condition.

  3. Individuals with congenital conditions: Some people are born with abnormalities in their lymphatic system, leading to primary lymphedema. This can manifest at birth or later in life.

  4. Those who have experienced trauma or infection: Any injury, surgery, or infection that damages the lymphatic system can increase the risk of developing lymphedema. This includes accidents, surgeries unrelated to cancer, or infections such as cellulitis.

  5. People with obesity: Excess weight can put pressure on the lymphatic system, impeding proper lymphatic drainage and increasing the risk of developing lymphedema.

  6. Those with vascular conditions: Conditions affecting blood flow and circulation, such as venous insufficiency or deep vein thrombosis, can also disrupt lymphatic function and lead to lymphedema.

Overall, lymphedema can affect individuals of any age, gender, or background, and it's essential to be aware of the risk factors and symptoms to ensure early detection and proper management.

How can Aquatic Physiotherapy Help patients and their Lymphedema Management?

Aquatic physiotherapy, also known as aquatic therapy or water therapy, can be beneficial for patients with lymphedema in several ways:

  1. Compression: The hydrostatic pressure of water can act as a form of natural compression, helping to reduce swelling in the affected limb.

  2. Exercise: Aquatic exercises can promote movement and circulation in the affected limb without causing excessive strain or impact on joints. This can help improve lymphatic flow and reduce fluid buildup.

  3. Resistance: Water provides resistance to movement, which can help strengthen muscles and improve overall function in the affected limb. Stronger muscles may aid in lymphatic drainage and reduce swelling.

  4. Buoyancy: The buoyancy of water supports the body, reducing the strain on joints and making movement easier and less painful. This can enable individuals with lymphedema to engage in exercises that they may find difficult or uncomfortable on land.

  5. Temperature: The warmth of water can help relax muscles and increase circulation, which may further aid in reducing swelling and promoting lymphatic drainage.

  6. Relaxation: Being in the water can have a calming and soothing effect, which may help reduce stress and tension associated with managing lymphedema.

Overall, Aquatic Physiotherapy can offer a safe and effective way to manage lymphedema symptoms, improve mobility, and enhance overall quality of life for individuals living with this condition. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or lymphedema therapist, before starting any new exercise program, including aquatic therapy, to ensure it is appropriate for your individual needs and condition.

Want to know more about how Aquatic Physical Therapy can work for you? Give us a call at +1 (868) 493-3330 or send us an email at about your concerns.

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