Top Myths Surrounding Lymphedema
There is nothing that can be done for your lymphedema.
This is absolutely wrong. Lymphedema is not a curable disease, but neither is diabetes. Both are absolutely manageable with proper care. Learn more about how to manage your lymphedema.
You should not travel if you have lymphedema or chronic swelling.
Yes, traveling can cause issues with lymphedema, but with proper precautions and compression, you can overcome them. Wearing compression while flying can help prevent swelling caused by lower air pressure. Sitting for long periods of time in a car or train may also cause swelling. Wearing compression will help lessen the risk of increased swelling. Whether you’re traveling by plane or train, make sure you get up and move around to help stimulate your lymphatic system and venous system to pump fluid out of the tissues and back to your circulatory system. If you’re in the car, make frequent stops to stretch and walk around.
People with lymphedema shouldn’t exercise.
Research has shown exercise is safe if you have lymphedema, including women with breast cancer-related lymphedema, as long as you follow a few basic principles:
- Get physician approval.
- Start a slow and progressive program under supervision.
- Stop if you experience pain.
- Wear a well-fitted compression garment while exercising.
It’s been more than 5 years since I had cancer. I haven’t developed lymphedema, so I’m in the clear.
There’s no “time limit” for when lymphedema can develop; it can be years after your treatment or not at all. It’s best to talk with a knowledgeable lymphedema therapist to discuss plans for long-term management. While you may never develop lymphedema, you should be educated and prepared if it happens.
My surgeon only removed a couple of lymph nodes during cancer treatment, so I won’t develop lymphedema.
This is not true because everyone’s anatomy is different. While it seems reasonable that removing fewer nodes reduces your risk, it does not eliminate the risk.
Compression garments are too tight to get on and painful to wear.
This will only happen if you’ve been poorly fitted or not fitted at all. Take the time to be fitted by a reputable fitter to determine your proper size. Talk to your doctor and therapist to see what is the best compression level and style. Juzo has a variety of colors and prints available in our Signature Collection to make compression functionable and fashionable.
All compression is the same, so why pay more?
The only benefit to cheap compression garments is the price – most of these are positioned as over-the-counter or athletic compression. Cheaply-made stockings and sleeves can actually have a reverse compression and make your condition worse. Be wary of compression socks that are only available as knee highs and sized by shoe size or as small, medium and large. This is not best practice for compression, as swollen limbs vary in size – and you may need containment above your knee. Stockings that are cheaper do not have a guaranteed compression level and won’t necessarily contain your swelling. Read more about the benefits of proper graduated medical compression garments. Also, cheap garments tend not to be comfortable, are hard to put on and wear out quickly. High quality garments, like Juzo’s, will last for up to six months. Learn about the Juzo Difference.
Some compression is better than no compression.
This is 100 percent false. If you have swelling and use too little compression, you are likely to have the garment bind or fall down. When the garment binds it becomes too tight and can make swelling worse. It is better to use the proper compression the first time to ensure good containment and support to your tissue.
Compression socks will reduce my swelling.
This is not completely true. Compression garments are designed to “maintain” your already reduced or normal limb size. When you experience swelling due to lymphedema, lipedema or a venous condition, you’ll use therapy with compression to help reduce that swelling. Once your swelling has reduced, your therapist or fitter will measure you for a compression garment – because your arm or leg will be close to its “normal” size. The compression garment will maintain that size. If you try to reduce your swelling further, perhaps through a smaller size or higher compression level, your garment will bind and cause pain and discomfort, or worse, wounds.