Heidi Allen, our lymphoedema nurse practitioner, is currently working three days a week from home and is able to offer remote support with telephone, video calls and emails to current lymphoedema patients.

Heidi welcomes new referrals from GPs or specialist teams, who should email patient information to [email protected].

What is lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is swelling that is caused by a build-up of fluid in the body’s tissues. It’s most commonly seen in the arms or legs, but can affect any part of the body. One of the most common causes of lymphoedema in the UK is cancer and its treatments, which stop the lymphatic system from functioning properly.

Lymphoedema symptoms

The swelling can cause discomfort, tightness, loss of function and mobility in the affected area, and dry scaly skin. There is also an increased risk of infection in the swollen limb.

As well as affecting how you feel about yourself, if left untreated the swelling is likely to get worse and the tissues in the limb may harden.

Lymphoedema treatments

It isn’t possible to repair damage caused to the lymphatic system, but it can be eased, reduced and controlled to help you feel more comfortable. Our lymphoedema practitioner will work with you and provide comprehensive advice and support.

The following advice and treatment is commonly given to help ease the symptoms of lymphoedema.

Skin care: keeping the area clean and well moisturised reduces the risk of infection by helping to prevent the development of dry, cracked or broken skin.

Gentle exercise is important to increase or maintain flexibility and the full range of joint movement and to promote muscle pump action, which encourages the movement and drainage of the fluid.

Compression: the use of specialist compression garments. such as stockings or sleeves or compression bandages. help to reduce the swelling. We measure the affected limbs or areas of your body so that made-to-measure garments can be ordered specifically for you. We have a specialist supplier that we use for garments.

Lymphatic massage: this is a very light massage technique designed to improve tissue drainage and improve circulation throughout the body, reducing congestion in swollen areas. Simple Lymph Drainage (SLD) techniques can be taught to patients to enable them to continue with treatment themselves at home and therefore maximise the benefits to the full. Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is a more thorough treatment given by an MLD therapist. Our lymphoedema nurse practitioner, Heidi, is fully qualified and experienced to give this treatment.

Lymphoedema resources for patients

Tripudio Movement Systems online class: in this 30-minute online class, your instructor Heidi will guide your through the Tripudio Flow sequence. These gentle movements are designed to help with lymphatic flow and facial release. The sequence takes 10-15 minutes and will be done to music linking together through Microsoft Teams. If you would like to participate in these fun classes and would like further information, please contact Heidi as above.

Breast Cancer Now: an organisation offering information and support to those affected by breast cancer and the effects of treatment, including details about lymphoedema.

Exercises for arm swelling: a 9-minute video from The Breast Cancer Haven will get you started towards your daily exercise routine. Although aimed at people affected by breast cancer, it is a great exercise for any upper body swelling.

Exercises for upper and lower limb swelling: an exercise and movement sheet for upper and lower limb lymphoedema written by Melanie Thomas (National Clinical Lead Lymphoedema, Welsh Government). 

Lymphoedema Support Network (LSN): LSN is a registered charity and the UK's national patient support organisation for lymphoedema.

LymphConnect is a community that offers support and encouragement to others who have lymphoedema. Helping people to navigate through the condition and learn effective ways to help integrate into daily life. 

NHS: information about lymphoedema covering the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

Skincare advice: the LSN have produced a short YouTube video to advise on skincare.

Lymphoedema resources for healthcare professionals

Ankle Brachial Pressure Index (ABPI) in lymphoedema: the British Lymphology Society’s (BLS) Position Paper For Ankle Brachial Pressure Index (ABPI) – Informing decision making prior to the application of compression therapy.

Wet Leg Pathway (Lymphorrhoea): tool for community nurses to enable effective prudent management of those affected by lymphoedema and, in particular, with wet legs.

Katharine House Hospice