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Reducing the burden: managing lymphoedema and its complications

02 June 2024
Volume 29 · Issue 6


Lymphoedema effects approximately 200 000 people in UK. It is a chronic condition without a cure but there is much that can be done to ease and manage these complications. This article looks at the eight most common complications, providing advise on how to manage them, derived from the literature and the author's own experience. It also presents advise on how nurses can promote self-management of these complications, promoting patients' self-care.

Lymphoedema affects approximately 200 000 people in the UK (NHS England, 2024), and many readers will have nursed patients with it and even seen people with it in their daily lives. Unlike leg ulcers, lymphoedema does not heal and currently has no cure (Wong and Furniss, 2020).

Its physical symptoms have a severe impact on a patient's psychological health and wellbeing; yet, there is so much that can be done to ease and manage these symptoms and improve a patient's quality of life. With the availability of compression wraps, a patient and/or their carer can manage their lymphoedema themselves and can gain so much more control over their lives. Initially, this may require input from a district nursing team, but this input can be soon replaced with self-care and improvement in a patient's life.

It is a complicated system that drains out fluid from the body's tissues and returns it back into the circulator system. It is a passive system, relying on the body's own movements to drive it and to return this fluid.

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