The Sue Ryder lymphoedema team in Berkshire provide a specialist physiotherapist and nurse-led service to around 500 patients each year.
Patients are treated as outpatients at Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading, Wokingham Day Hospice or Charles Clore Day Hospice in Thatcham. They may also be seen on the ward, in day therapy or occasionally in their own homes.
What is lymphoedema?
Lymphoedema is a swelling that develops due to a build-up of fluid in the body's tissues. It happens when the lymphatic system, which is responsible for draining fluid away, isn’t working properly.
The swelling usually occurs in an arm or leg, but can affect the head, neck or trunk. Lymphoedema often occurs as a side effect of cancer surgery and radiotherapy, sometimes many years after treatment, but can occur as a result of a number of other causes.
What are the symptoms?
The swelling can make the area feel uncomfortable, heavy and achy, may restrict movement, and can lead to repeated infections in the swollen area.
As well as physical difficulties, lymphoedema can cause emotional distress through patients developing issues with body image and self-esteem, and can be a constant reminder of their condition.
What we do to help
Lymphoedema can’t be cured, but a lot can be done to control and reduce the swelling, and relieve distressing symptoms, especially with early diagnosis and advice.
Our specialist therapists demonstrate self-treatment strategies including skincare, ways to reduce the risk of getting cellulitis (infections) in the swollen area(s), and self-massage techniques and exercises. They may suggest wearing specialist compression garments, and sometimes use other techniques such as lymphoedema taping, Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage, pneumatic pumps and bandaging.
Local support group
The Berkshire Lymphoedema Support Group meets monthly and welcomes anyone with lymphoedema to come along to any of their meetings.
There are speakers, discussions, and the chance to meet others facing similar issues. For details about this support group, go to www.blsg.co.uk or phone Ruth on 0118 954 2636.
Find out more about our lymphoedema service
For more information on our lymphoedema service, phone 0118 955 0413 or...