There is no known cure for lymphedema, although the condition can largely be kept in check with a few treatment methods. One of them is Manual Lymph Drainage or MLD, a part of the complete decongestive therapy. MLD is a light massaging procedure where the flow of fluids is stimulated in the right direction. Lymphedema pumps are sometimes used to direct the pooled fluids to the blood stream. Massage therapists may sometimes use the pump, but it is an essential aid for people who cannot avail of the services of a massage therapist.
Using a lymphedema pump involves two stages, which are: Preparatory Phase and Drainage Phase. The lymph vessels need to be prepared to receive the fluid that the pump stimulates. This is the preparatory stage, which has to be done properly. If not, the lymph will enter the surrounding tissues, causing complications instead. The therapist always prepares the patient first by giving a gentle massage. While using the pump at home, the patient must perform a self-massage to prepare the body for the therapy.
The lymphedema pump is used at the drainage stage. While using the pump, it needs to be adjusted for the right pressure level. The patient is then required to wear the garment and position the limb correctly before starting the pump. The pump’s action pushes the fluid accumulated in the limb towards the blood stream thus reducing the swelling. To keep up the flow in the right direction the patient must wear the compression garment after the MLD session is completed. This will prevent the fluids from entering the tissues and promote a smooth flow of the lymphatic fluids.
Lymphedema pumps come in two varieties. One is the Sequential Gradient Pump where the air is automatically pushed into the inbuilt channels of the garment. It is an imitation of how the natural lymph flow moves from the limbs towards the trunk of the body. Here the preparatory phase, that is the massage, has to be performed manually. The second variant of the pump is the FlexiTouch Pump wherein the whole process of MLD is fully automated. All that is required is to adjust the setting to the necessary level and activate the pump. Here the complete process may take a good part of the hour. However, the whole process needs to be completed in one sitting.
The pneumatic lymphedema pump has been used for a long time to treat lymphedema. It has been a proven method of treatment with positive results. Buying a pump may turn out to be quite expensive as a good quality pump might cost anything between 5000 to 6000 dollars. Insurance firms include it in Durable medical Equipment hence the patient may be reimbursed for the expense. There is also the option of renting out the pump from a supply store. Lymphedema pumps are a great help for people who have no access to a therapist. They could easily learn the techniques of using it to manage lymphedema.