Q:

What are some exercises to relieve the effects of lymphedema?

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Quick Answer

Following a lymphedema diagnosis, doctors recommend gentle stretching and range-of-motion exercises to reduce its flare-ups and strengthen the lymphatic system, states BreastCancer.org. Once the lymphedema stabilizes, exercise plans focus on a combination of stretching, aerobic and flexibility exercises, such as gentle yoga, light weightlifting and swimming.

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Full Answer

Lymphedema is a condition where lymph fluid cannot drain from the soft body tissues into the lymph system because of a blockage or damage and consequently builds up in the tissues and causes swelling, explains the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Lymphedema usually affects the arms, legs, neck, abdomen and groin areas although the lymph system covers other organs such as the spleen and bone marrow. Signs of lymphedema include swelling in the arms and legs, trouble moving a joint, thickening of the skin, itching, and loss of hair.

Damage to the lymph system cannot be repaired, therefore treatment for lymphedema aims to control the swelling and to prevent worsening of the condition as well as the development of other disorders, adds the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Treatment options, such as pressure garments, compression devices, massage therapy, bandages and aerobic exercises, help to move the lymph fluid along and prevent its buildup. As a result, sufferers get reduced pain, increased mobility and a chance to continue with activities of daily living.

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