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Lymphedema: Why Yes, I am Wearing Knee-Socks in the Summer

Summer is here and so is the heat in New England. I am not a fan of the heat, as I may have mentioned before, but mostly just when my lymphedema acts up. This is why I love New England so much and will probably never leave, unless it’s to move to an even cooler climate!

Lymphedema and My Struggle with Summer

Lymphedema and My Struggle with Summer

It’s only mid-June and already it’s been stifling hot, which in my world means swollen, uncomfortable legs. I have lymphedema of the legs which is a hereditary condition I inherited from my dad. When he was dying, his legs were so swollen I had to lift them and put them into the car for him. He pretty much ignored his condition but in the end I believe it led to complications that contributed to the illness.

What is Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a chronic (long-term) condition in which excess fluid (lymph) collects in tissues causing edema (swelling). Lymphedema can be very debilitating. In short, lymphedema is edema due to lymphatic fluid; a blockage of the lymphatic system.

Some experts say it is caused by mutations in some of the genes that are involved in the development of the lymphatic system. These faulty genes interfere with the lymphatic system’s development, undermining its ability to drain fluid properly. – Medical News Today

Herbs for Primary Lymphedema

Lately I’ve been trying to use dandelion and astragalus root to flush my lymphatic system and boost the drainage. Dandelion root is great for cleansing the lymph system of any built-up waste. “Astragalus can ease congestion and swelling,” says HerbalismRoots.com. These herbs also help clean and detox your liver, which is so important to me since liver condition was related to both of my parents illnesses. Get Astragalus Root here

Exercises for Primary Lymphedema

Exercises for Primary Lymphedema
Start with your head and back flat on a carpet or mattress and prop the leg(s) up with 2-3 pillows. You may support your head with a pillow if necessary. I find it also helps my lower back to do these exercises.

  1. Slowly and firmly bring one knee up to the chest, then straighten leg and lower down onto the pillows. Repeat this 10 times.
  2. Slowly point foot towards the floor then bring back as far as it will go. Repeat 10 times.
  3. Slowly rotate feet making circular movements with pointed toes. First clockwise then anti-clockwise. Repeat this 10 times.

Other Ways to Manage Lymphedema

There are other ways to manage lymphedema which have worked pretty well for me, except in humid conditions, when there really isn’t anything that helps. Wearing compression stockings is the best thing for me – I started with a prescription from my vascular doctor but now I can measure my own legs and order my compression stockings online.

Swimming is another way to manage lymphedema because it stimulate the lymph vessels, which aids the transport and drainage of lymph fluid in the skin back into the lymph circulatory system. According to the National Lymphedema Network, swimming “…enhances cardiovascular fitness, effective weight management and overall health and may specifically benefit lymphedema patients by improving venous and lymph flow.”

Walking is a great way to get light exercise and stimulate the flow of lymph fluid, especially when pairing it with hydration. Limiting sodium and increasing protein may help as well.

My doctors are always shocked when they see my right leg and don’t seem to know a lot about lymphedema. So if you have any ideas for treatment or your own experiences, please leave a comment!

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