Secondary Lymphoedema is due to damage to our Lymphatic System or difficulties with the movement and drainage of fluid in the Lymphatic System. It can be the result of an infection, injury, surgical treatment for cancer, i.e., breast cancer, inflammation of the limb or poor limb movement.
It is thought that it affects around 200,000 people throughout the UK, with around 2 in 10 women with Breast Cancer, 5 in 10 women with Vulval Cancer and 3 in 10 men with Penile Cancer.
Whilst there is no cure for this condition, there are things that you can do to help. This includes Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD).
Want to know more? This article looks at more about Secondary Lymphoedema and how RLD can help.
What is Secondary Lymphoedema?
Secondary Lymphoedema is a long-term condition that causes the tissues within the body to swell as the body lymph is not drained properly. Whilst it can occur throughout the body, it is most common in the arms and legs. This network of glands and channels is responsible for not only fighting infections, but also removing excess fluid; thereby causing the swelling within the tissues of our arms and legs.
What are the symptoms of Secondary Lymphoedema?
There are a variety of symptoms that could point towards someone suffering from Secondary Lymphoedema. One of the biggest signs is that you notice your affected body part is swollen. You may not be able to fit as well into your clothes, or any jewellery that you wear could be tighter. This could have a potential adverse effect on mood, self-esteem and confidence.
The swelling may not always be there, in fact it can come and go over time. Without treatment however, you will find that it becomes more severe and persistent.
Other symptoms that you may find include:
- A heavy feeling
- Skin infections
- Hard and tight skin
- Wart like growths
- Fluid leaking through the skin
What is RLD?
RLD is a Reflexology technique researched and developed by Sally Kay BSc(Hons), whilst she was working in Cancer Care (Sally Kay RLD 2010). This therapy focuses on lymphatic reflexs on the feet that aim to stimulate and cause an effect on the lymphatic system within the body. It stimulates the flow of the fluid through the Lymphatic System which explains the reduction of swelling following RLD treatment.
How does RLD help?
According to Kay (2012), those who have had RLD for management of Secondary Lymphoedema, they have reported that it has helped in a variety of ways. This includes:
- Reduced swelling
- Less pain and discomfort
- An increase in the strength and mobility of the arm and leg
- A feeling of improved body image and wellbeing
All of these things are vital for those who are suffering with Secondary Lymphoedema and can help them feel better.