Corporate Office- South Bend, IN

17187 State Road 23 South Bend, IN 46635 Phone: (574) 273-6000 Fax: (574) 247-8199 View Map & Get Directions

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1612 W. Lexington Ave. Elkhart, IN 46514 Phone: (574) 522-2273 Fax: (574) 522-4563 View Map & Get Directions

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1920 W. Lake Ave. Plymouth, IN 46563 Phone: (574) 941-4444 Fax: (574) 941-4440 View Map & Get Directions

Michigan City, IN

3219 South Franklin Street Michigan City, IN 46360 Phone: (219) 872-1000 Fax: (219) 879-1917 View Map & Get Directions

St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, Medical Office Building

611 E. Douglas Road, Suite 124 Mishawaka, IN 46545 Phone: 574-247-8100 Fax: 574-855-2475 View Map & Get Directions

Health Issues

Lymphedema Living Your Life

Copyright by the Society for Vascular Surgery and NorthPoint Domain.

If you are at risk for developing lymphedema, you can act to prevent it. Initially, if you have mild lymphedema, you can act to keep the condition from worsening. You can take the following precautions to prevent or minimize symptoms:

  • Clean your affected limb regularly. Remember to dry it thoroughly and apply lotion
  • Wear gloves while gardening and cooking
  • If you shave the affected area, use an electric razor
  • Don't go barefoot
  • Do not cross your legs when you sit
  • Do not carry a handbag with your affected arm.

In addition, if you are at risk for lymphedema, avoid having injections and blood pressure readings performed on your affected limb. You can also wear a special bracelet or necklace to notify medical personnel of your risk for lymphedema and the risk for complications, such as infection.

Physicians have not agreed about how to best treat chronic lymphedema. Some people have benefited from manual lymphatic drainage. This treatment uses massage to stimulate your weakened lymphatic system. Other treatment methods include special exercises that you can do while wearing compression stockings or bandages, and the use of external pumps to aid the movement of fluid through your body. A treatment that combines these treatments with lifestyle changes is called complex decongestive therapy.

Medication cannot cure lymphedema. However, your physician may prescribe medications to treat associated conditions. For example, antibiotics play an important role in combating infections that can worsen lymphedema.

Your physician may recommend surgery to remove excess tissue if your limb becomes so large and heavy that it interferes with your ability to move it.

Treating your lymphedema requires your participation. Because lymphedema can be very painful, you may benefit from individual counseling. You can also join support groups that provide practical advice as well as social and emotional support.