What is the Lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system is responsible for your body’s immune defense against viruses, infections, bacteria, and other foreign matter. It fights against anything from a common cold to cancer. It stores cells that remember which viruses you’ve been exposed to (e.g. chicken pox). It will tell your body which cells are safe and which ones to attack.
Lymph vessels run alongside the arteries and veins in our body. It is responsible for taking up the blood, sending it through lymph nodes that act as filtering stations to take out any impurities that are detected. Then it sends the cleaned blood back to the heart where is put back into circulation. Our body has between 600-700 lymph nodes.
When the lymph system is overloaded with more demand then t is capable of filtering, it can result in swelling. This can be termed as lymphedema (edema = swelling).
What is lymphedema?
is swelling that occurs when lymph fluid can't flow normally and builds up in the soft tissues of a limb
Lymphedema is swelling that occurs from a buildup of lymph fluid that can’t flow normally. This is the result of dysfunctional or damage to the lymph system. It is categorized into two different types. Primary lymphedema and Secondary lymphedema.
Primary lymphedema is caused by a malformation of the lymphatic system. It may be indicated by too few (hypoplasia), too many (hyperplasia) or no (anaplasia) lymphatic vessels in a specific region of the body. Primary lymphedema usually affects the lower legs, but may affect the hands, or other parts of the body as well. It can be present at birth (congenital lymphedema), present during adolescents (lymphedema precox), or later in life (lymphedema tarda). Lymphoscintigraphy or lymphangiography may be used to diagnose the extent of lymphatic function in Primary lymphedema.
Secondary lymphedema is a result of identifiable damage to a normal-functioning lymphatic system. Often it is surgery related where lymph nodes have been removed. (e.g. mastectomy). However, it can also occur as a result of radiation, burns, infection, or over worked lymphatic vessels in relation to chronic venous insufficiency or obesity. Secondary lymphedema usually presents in relations to the trauma region. For example, breast cancer surgery usually involves axillary (armpit) lymph nodes to be surgically removed. This may result in arm and/or chest lymphedema.
What are Symptoms of Secondary Lymphedema?
The most common symptom is swelling. Symptoms may present shortly after surgery, a few months later, years later, or not at all. Symptoms may also vary from patient to patient. The initial symptom may be that the limb feels heavy or tired. This can advance to the limb becoming physically larger due to the accumulation of protein rich fluid in the interstitium presenting as edema or pitting edema. (The skin is soft and leaves an indent when pressed). Because the lymph fluid cannot drain properly the protein molecules accumulate and may become fibrotic (hardening) over time. As these changes occur, so do the risks of more swelling, tissue infections (cellulitis), and skin break down leading to ulcerations.
If any of these symptoms present, it is important to go see your doctor or Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT) as soon as possible. Lymphedema does not go away on its own. Lymphedema is a lifelong condition.
How is lymphedema treated?
The Gold Standard level of care for lymphedema is Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). This involves seeing a Certified Lymphedema Therapist for manual lymph drainage, meticulous skin care, compression bandaging and setting up an exercise plan suitable specific to your needs and abilities. Your therapist will help you into the next stage, the maintenance phase. Your CLT will give you valuable tools and tips for your independent selfcare which may include teaching you how to do self-manual drainage, skin care, the importance of wearing a compression sleeve, and exercise.
Medical Compression Garment
What are compression garments?
Compression garments come in all shapes, styles and sizes. Their purpose is to apply external pressure on the limb to decrease osmotic pressure in the interstitial space between cells. This in turn, helps create a state of homeostasis and reduces the chances of swelling to occur. Compression stockings or sleeves can be helpful for enhancing circulation or inhibiting edema or lymphedema.
At Menzies ProCare we offer a huge variety of medical compression garments in socks, thigh highs, panty hose, sleeves, gloves, compression bras, compression vests, and head and neck garments.
Who should wear compression garments.
If you have stand or sit for prolonged periods of time, get tired legs, have varicose or spider veins, swollen ankles, are pregnant, or are planning to fly, then compression stockings may be beneficial for you. In the case of post cancer surgery, primary or secondary lymphedema, a compression garment for the affected area is highly indicated for you.
Do I need to be measured for medical compression garments?
Yes, whether you need a custom-made garment or fit into a ‘off the shelf’ garment, it is of utmost importance that your medical compression garment has a precise fit to optimize the medical benefits. To attain this, we believe that it is of the same importance that you see an Expert Certified Fitter to measure you. Your Expert Certified Fitter will determine if you require a custom made or off the shelf garment. She will measure the length and circumference of your limb in various locations to optimize the product performance. We understand that a well-fitting garment will increase the compliance of the patient, which in turn will result in positive results on the medical condition. If the garment is too loose, it will not be applying the external pressure onto the internal tissue to improve fluid movement. If it is too tight, it can potentially have a reverse effect on the circulation.
Your Expert Certified Fitter is trained to measure for any medical compression garment needed in accordance to your medical diagnosis.
Expert Certified Fitter
There are different levels of training that is attained to become a certified fitter for compression garments. Anyone can attain the basic level of training that typically involves taking 2 or 3 different measurements on a ‘normal’ shaped leg, and suggested for proactive reasons or stage 0 – 1 in varicose veins. Expert Certified Fitter has a medical background in lymphedema, venous insufficiency, lipedema, and lipolymphedema. An Expert Certified Fitter is able to take precise measurements for any part of the body that requires a compression garment. (This includes head and neck lymphedema garment, scrotal edema, thorax edema)
It is our belief that prescriptions should always be filled by health care professionals who have a strong background in their respected field. Thus, it is important to see an Expert Certified Fitter for your medical compression stockings or garments. Our Expert Certified Fitter will take measurement according to limb shape, medical condition and diagnosis. She works closely with your doctor to make the most suitable recommendation regarding the style and compression level for your compression garment. Compression garments are made to have a graded compression with the highest level at the ankle. The mmHg gradually decreases the higher along the limb it goes.
Mastectomy bras and prosthesis
After a mastectomy it is important that you wear a good fitting bra appropriate for where you are in the healing process. To start with you may need a bra with a drain pouch pocket. You may want a light cotton prosthesis if the wound is still tender. It is important to get the right bra to allow optimal healing at the beginning and prevent any restriction of lymph flow on the compromised side. Linda will work together with you medical team to help you through the healing process. At MENZIES ProCare we provide you with options in color, style, shape in both Breast prosthesis and bras. We carry both Amoena and Bresannte breast prosthesis. Each has unique characteristics that provide you with options for your personalized comfort and style.
We can provide you with a copy of the anatomy of a good bra. A few things to look for are wide shoulder straps, snug fit to bodice in front, wide support band, pockets to hold your prosthesis, to name a few. If you’ve had a mastectomy, we want to be part of your support team to help you feel beautiful!
When should you be measured?
We can measure you before your surgery using your natural breast, or after surgery using your opposite breast, plus we also use your original bra and cup size as guide. Patients are carefully measured for breast size and shape. Our trained fitters will let you see and feel the breast prosthesis and bra options available. We provide you with many options so you choose what is best suited for you.
Menzies ProCare is an approved suppler and fitter with Cancercare Manitoba. Patients that have had a lumpectomy or mastectomy may be coverer for through Manitoba Health for these products. Come see your professionals at Menzies ProCare. We want to be part of your health care team.
What is Infant Massage
Infant massage is a special bonding for you and your baby. It is an important time of nurturing, touching, listening, and learning to understand your baby’s communication language. During this relaxing time, the baby’s brain is actively developing important connections that are related to building confidence and security. It will have long lasting benefits as your baby grows.
What are the benefits of infant massage?
Both baby and parent benefits from Infant massage. During this time you will be promoting security in your baby. Infant massage stimulates and strengthens all 5 senses in a positive environment. It produces hormones in your baby that control stress. Babies, and parents learn to communicate in both verbal and non-verbal ways. The baby develops feelings of love, respect, and being valued.
Infant massage stimulates the circulatory, digestive, respiratory, and lymphatic system. It promotes growth and muscles strength, learning and concentration, relaxation and a stronger immunity. Parents may find it is helpful for constipation, gas, colic, and teething discomfort, and reduce crying.
What will I learn at my Infant massage classes?
You will learn the powerful elements of human touch that is unique between you and baby. Your Certified Infant Massage Instructor will take you and baby through a series of lessons including styles of touch, movement, communication, and interaction. This will include learning various massage strokes, how much pressure to use on different parts of the body, and when the best time is to massage. You will learn how to integrate the entire body for massage including face and neck, and how to massage to help with babies that have cholic. We will discuss massage oils to use on you baby, and of course which oils not to use on their delicate skin.
One of the main goals in our classes is to help create a strong bond between baby and Momma and Daddy. It will build confidence in parents. This will naturally be passed onto the baby in your day to day reaction.
How long will it take for me to learn infant massage?
You will learn the most important fundamentals and the foundation of how to massage your baby in the first class. Each class following we will integrate a new lesson that you can build on. Typically this course is taught once a week over a 5 week period. Classes are usually 30-45 minutes long. We always try to leave time for parents to connect with each other at the end of the class. Parents are often the best teachers with valuable firsthand information to share with each other.
At what age should I start to massage my baby?
Massage is good for children of all ages. It is never to early or too late to start. There are much science based evidence that show the many benefits of physical touch with our premies to teens.
From the time you baby is born she or he needs to have your touch to feel secure, nurtured, and understood. These needs continue as they grow into toddlers, teenagers, and adults.