Caring for a Loved One with Lymphedema

Caregivers in East Lansing MI

Caregivers in East Lansing MIIf your loved one has undergone surgery to remove their lymph nodes during cancer treatment, they can be at risk for lymphedema. In addition, injuries to the lymph nodes, radiation treatment, and certain medications can cause lymphedema. Lymphedema occurs when the lymph nodes are not present to filter fluid which results in fluid build up in an arm or a leg. When the fluid builds up, it causes uncomfortable swelling in the affected arm or leg. Fortunately, lymphedema can be managed and even avoided when the proper steps are taken. Here are some tips that caregivers can use to help their loved one to manage their lymphedema at home:

Exercise and Bandaging

Light, gentle exercise is one way your loved one can relieve the swelling from lymphedema. However, exercise does cause an increase in blood flow to the muscles which can actually increase lymph fluid in the affected arm or leg. For this reason, it is important for you to assist your loved one in properly bandaging the affected arm or leg before exercising. To learn how to bandage properly and to learn which exercises are safe for your loved one to do, it is a good idea to talk to your loved one’s doctor.

Protecting the Affected Limb

After lymph node surgery, it is important for your loved one to protect the limb affected by the surgery from injury. Even insect bites and sunburns can be harmful, so it is important to encourage your loved one to always use sunscreen and insect repellent when spending time outdoors. It is also important to protect the affected limb from cuts and scratches. If your loved one develops signs of infection in the affected limb such as pain, redness, and more swelling, it is important for them to seek medical attention right away.

Physical Therapy

Many doctors recommend physical therapy for patients with lymphedema. A physical therapist can show your loved one how to do certain exercises that will help them to ease lymphedema symptoms. You can help your loved one by encouraging them to also do these exercises at home on a regular basis.

Alert Nurses and Hospital Staff

Make sure that your loved one’s nurses, hospital staff, and other doctors are aware your your loved one’s lymphedema. If your loved one has had a lymph node removed from under their arm, they cannot have blood drawn from that arm or have a blood pressure cuff placed on that arm.


If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in East Lansing, MI, please contact the caring staff at Seniors Helping Seniors of Lansing. Call today: 517-332-9953.