Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Lymphedema

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TWC News: Lymphedema
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Lymphedema can be caused by surgery, breast cancer, radiation and even injury, but sometimes the cause is unknown.

"There would be days I come home and couldn't put on pants. Not because I couldn't button, but I couldn't get them around my legs," lymphedema patient Timothy Delello said.

For years, Delello suffered from swollen, painful legs, elephantiasis, cellulitis, sores and infections.

"The infection was creeping up to my thigh and they actually had lines where they were going to cut my legs off," Delello said.

Lymphedema is the swelling of localized tissue caused by damaged or blocked lymphatic vessels, lymph fluid than backs up, causing extremely painful swelling.

"I was suicidal, I felt suicidal," Delello said.

The treatment of lymphedema is mostly physical therapy. Gentle massage is used to stimulate the lymphatic system, it is called complete de-congestive therapy.

"There's manual lymph drainage where we put our hands on people and actually stimulate the lymphatic system, we get rid of the protein. The way we can stimulate the lymphatic system by stretching the skin, it's because the lymphatic system is attached to the bottom layer of the skin," Kathryn Taylor-Anilowski with the Kinder Touch Lymphedema Center said.

Other treatment includes skin care for sores, hydration, infections, wraps and compression sleeves. While there is no cure for lymphedema, it can be managed and the earlier you catch the condition and treat it, the better the outcome.

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