5th September 2012 – Drop in to find out more about lymphoedema

Posted on September 5, 2012 by AireAdmin

A special event is being held to let more people know about lymphoedema – a condition which causes chronic swelling due to problems with the lymph drainage system.

Healthcare professionals, patients and members of the public are urged to drop in to meet the lymphoedema team from Airedale Hospital and find out more about the treatment of the condition and the many products that can be used.

It will coincide with the British Lymphology Society Awareness Week and is being held on Wednesday 12 September, 10.30am – 3pm at The Great Victoria Hotel in Bradford and refreshments will be available.

Pat Gardner, lead lymphoedema nurse at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Raising awareness of lymphoedema is vital as some people can suffer for years before being referred for help and diagnosed correctly.

“Delays in treatment often have a detrimental physical and psychological effect on patients causing them unnecessary pain, discomfort, anxiety and depression.

“This also results in an increased cost for the NHS due to unnecessary hospital admissions as people with heavy limbs have a greater risk of falls and recurrent cellulitis.”

Lymphoedema or chronic oedema is a long-term progressive condition resulting in swelling in any part of the body but is most commonly seen in the arms or legs. It is usually caused by failure of the lymphatic system. It can be hereditary and results in poor functioning of the lymphatic system and it can be triggered by pregnancy, trauma, surgery or cancer treatment. It is becoming more common due to the rising number of older and obese people. For some people it can be very distressing especially if it restricts their mobility, but it can be controlled if detected early.

Patients are taught how to manage their own condition and treatment includes skin care promoting hygiene to reduce the risk of infection; exercise to propel lymph fluid and improve mobility; compression usually in the form of stockings and arm sleeves and massage to enhance drainage. Once treatment begins, patients quickly gain better control over their condition improving confidence and quality of life.

The lymphoedema service is run by a small team of six people and they have more than 500 patients across Bradford and Airedale and hold weekly clinics at Westbourne Green Health Centre, Undercliffe Health Centre, Canalside Health Centre and a monthly clinic at Ilkley Coronation Hospital.

Each patient has an individual assessment and specialist nurse Pat Gardner and her team look closely at the patient’s whole history – including their medication, current level of social care, responsibilities in the home, and entitlement to benefits.

Referral to the service is by general practitioner, specialist doctor or nurse caring for the patient. The team also welcomes enquiries and are available to discuss any special needs for their patients.

For more information please contact the team on 01535 292712 between 8.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.

The Lymphoedema Support Network is a national organisation providing advice, leaflets and a newsletter. Contact them on 020 7351 4480 or go on their website www.lymphoedema.org/lsn.