MQ Health - Macquarie University

Lymphoedema Clinic

Complex Lymphoedema Therapy (CLT)

Compression Therapy

The use of compression garments is one of the cornerstones of lymphoedema treatment. They enable medically appropriate pressure to be applied to the swollen region. This means that the pooling of fluid can be reduced, the limb size and shape preserved and the lymphatic circulation supported and improved. Compression garments provide graduated compression and are available in a variety of styles, sizes, colours and grades of compression (class 1-IV). Severe swelling usually requires stronger support than mild swelling.

Lymphoedema therapists are skilled at garment prescription and can advise on garment style and whether a pre-sized (Ready to Wear) garment or a custom made garment is required. Garment fabric may be constructed as a circular knit or a flat knit design. Most commonly garments are worn during the day and removed at night. Compression garments need to be replaced regularly in order to provide optimal support. Some people with mild lymphoedema may not require compression garments.

What psychosocial implications can occur for people with lymphoedema?

A variety of psychosocial issues may arise following a diagnosis of lymphoedema. These range from adjusting to a chronic illness to dealing with the day to day demands of self-management. This may have an impact on body image and quality of life. Depression and anxiety may result when there is a lack of support.

Effective treatment and management will involve psychosocial support and interventions that optimise quality of life and facilitate self-management.

A variety of other treatments are available for treatment of lymphoedema such as laser therapy, taping, hyperbaric oxygen and certain medications have been used to treat lymphoedema. To date there is insufficient evidence about these therapies and further evaluation is required.

References

1. The Diagnosis and Treatment of Peripheral Lymphoedema: 2009 Consensus Document of the International Society of Lymphology. Lymphology 42 (2009) 51-60.

2. SRJ, Thiadens, PJ Stewart, NL Strout. (2010) 100 Questions and Answers about Lymphoedema. Jones and Bartlett Sudbury Massachusetts.

3. National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre. Review of research evidence on secondary lymphoedema: Incidence, prevention, risk factors and treatment, NBOCC, Surry Hills, NSW, 2008. Document can be downloaded from http://www.nbocc.org.au/breasthealth/careafter/lymphoedema.html

4. Lymphoedema Framework: Best Practice for the Management of Lymphoedema. International Consensus. London: MEP Ltd, 2006.

5. International Lymphoedema Framework. Best practice for the management of lymphoedema 2nd edition: Surgical Intervention – A position document on surgery for lymphoedema. 2016. Document can be downloaded here.