Lymphedema is a medical condition caused by a lack of drainage in your body’s lymphatic system. The lymphatic vessels might be blocked or simply not working like they should, resulting in the accumulation of fluid and inflammation of your body’s tissue.
There are several ways to treat lymphedema, and one thing that can promote improved circulation is the use of compression sleeves for arms from Leonisa. Compression can be applied in everything from wraps and bandages to our specially-made compression sleeves for the arms and legs.
How Does Compression Help Lymphedema?
The goal of any lymphedema treatment is to stop fluid from pooling and collecting in your lymphatic system. This is what causes the swelling in your lymph vessels.
Compression therapy has proven effective at managing inflammation all over the body. It improves circulation through the use of gentle, continuous pressure. It’s the same idea as wrapping a sprained ankle or wearing a tight glove for carpal tunnel syndrome. By applying pressure to a specific place, you can increase circulation and reduce the likelihood of blood and other fluids accumulating there.
Another benefit of compression therapy is that it can act as an external force on your lymph vessels, encouraging them to drain fluid more effectively. In the case of compression sleeves, they’re often tighter at the wrists or elbows to direct fluid upwards and into your greater lymphatic system.
Specific Benefits of Our Compression Sleeves
You’ve read about the science behind compression, but what does it actually mean in terms of real-world benefits? Here’s how compression sleeves can help your lymphedema.
1. Pain Relief
Pain is one of the most common symptoms of lymphedema. When fluid accumulates in the lymph vessels, it can result in everything from a heavy aching sensation to the skin becoming hard and tight. Both the upper and lower arms can be affected. It also makes you more likely to develop skin infections such as cellulitis.
Compression can help get the fluid moving again, stopping the pain at its source. The inflammation can lessen, the aches can go away, and the skin can regain its softness and suppleness. Compression might also reduce the intensity and duration of infections.
2. Improved Range of Motion
Another hallmark of lymphedema is a lack of mobility caused by swelling in your lymphatic vessels. In minor cases, you might feel sore or stiff when you try to raise your arms; in extreme cases, you might have arms so swollen that you can barely move them.
Compression can improve your range of motion by preventing or treating the inflammation causing your mobility issues. Your lymphatic system will drain more efficiently, preventing a buildup of internal fluid and affording you more flexibility in your arms. You’ll be able to lift, bend, extend and even flex with greater freedom of movement.
3. Milder Side Effects From Lymphedema
While lymphedema is best known for causing swelling in the limbs, it has a wide range of secondary symptoms, such as headaches. It can also cause complications like cellulitis and skin infections.
Compression can be a source of relief for some of these symptoms. Not only can it treat the underlying cause, but it can also prevent the development of certain side effects. For example, if your lymphedema makes you prone to infections whenever you cut or scrape your arms, one of our wrist-to-bicep compression sleeves can be a protective barrier against injuries.
4. Reduced Risk of Blood Clots
Lymphedema is a disorder of the lymphatic system, but it can cause problems in other bodily systems as well. A potential complication of lymphedema is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), the formation of blood clots deep within the veins of the circulatory system.
You can lessen the risk of blood clots by wearing compression garments that help increase blood flow. Compression can also help with pain and inflammation relief after DVT.
5. Healthier Appearance
Even mild cases of lymphedema can leave you self-conscious because of the swelling in your arms. More developed cases can also cause blisters, pitted skin surfaces, and fluid leakages through the skin. The final stage of lymphedema is elephantiasis, a condition where your skin becomes enlarged and thickened like an elephant’s trunk.
Wearing our compression sleeves can hide some of these physical issues. They can also prevent, lessen, or delay the onset of symptoms that cause appearance changes. You can invest in clothing like our shapewear underwear to make you look and feel like yourself again even after inflammation has set in.
6. Faster Healing Time
Lymphedema can put you at greater risk of a number of wounds, such as infections, ulcers and blisters. Draining your lymphatic system is critical to treating these wounds. Compression isn’t the only way to do it, but it’s the simplest, and it can be done at home with compression sleeves and other garments.
Once you get the circulation going, you may notice faster healing times for your lymphedema-related injuries. You’ll also lessen the possibility of them recurring once you’re actively trying to deter them.
7. Higher Quality of Life
Last but not least, compression sleeves can improve your overall quality of life. They’re one of many treatment and condition management options for those living with lymphedema. Compression sleeves are a great tool for physical and psychological well-being, from lessening the aches and pains of movement to boosting your self-confidence with a healthier appearance.
Different Types of Compression Sleeves
The two main types of compression sleeves are daytime and nighttime sleeves. As their name suggests, daytime compression sleeves are worn during the day. They’re usually individual tube-shaped garments that slide onto each arm. Tighter at the wrists and elbows than at the tops, they’ll encourage lymph fluid to flow upwards and into your greater lymphatic system rather than accumulating in your arms.
Nighttime compression sleeves have a similar construction as daytime ones, but they’re made with a looser fit to accommodate the changes in your body as you sleep. They’re often bigger and bulkier. Some even come with foam padding. These modifications are meant to keep you comfortable overnight while still providing the pressure you need to manage your lymphedema symptoms.
In addition to daytime and nighttime variations, you’ll also find different styles of compression sleeves. They might have assorted lengths, for example, with compression ending at the elbow or the wrist.
At Leonisa, we offer three types of compression sleeves: a long-sleeve shaper, a three-quarter sleeve back-closing arm shaper, and a front-closing arm sleeve vest. They are all made from SkinFuse® compression fabric.
Sizing and Fitting Tips for Your Compression Sleeves
Are you wearing the right size in compression sleeves? It’s normal for them to feel a bit strange, especially for first-time users. But they shouldn’t cause pain or discomfort. They also shouldn’t be worsening your lymphedema symptoms or creating any long-term health problems. Properly fitted compression sleeves are safe to wear every day.
Here are a few tips for ensuring the proper fit of your compression sleeves:
- Measure your arms: At Leonisa, we currently offer arm sleeves in two sizes, S/M and L/XL. Consult our size guide for help.
- Put your sleeves on clean, dry skin: Shaper sleeves will glide over clean, dry skin. If you like to wear lotion, make sure it’s been fully absorbed into your skin before pulling on your compression sleeves.
- Wear gloves when putting on your sleeves: This can prevent snagging and bunching. You can also smooth your glove over your sleeves to ensure a flat, even surface.
Alternatives to Compression Sleeves
Sleeves are one of the easiest ways to apply compression therapy to your upper body. However, you’ll have a few other options if you are unable or unwilling to wear them.
The first alternative to a full arm sleeve is our invisible upper arm shaper vest. These shapers are also made from our seamless SkinFuse® fabric. These are designed to be worn with a bra. They’ll hug your upper body and apply firm, steady pressure to encourage circulation. In addition to improving blood and fluid flow, they can stop you from aggravating stitches and incisions along your arms.
Another option is a full-coverage bra. These can be made with or without compression fabric, though the former is best for lymphedema. However, any full-coverage bra can offer support to the upper body in a way that lessens pain, promotes healing after surgery, and reduces the stress of motion. You can even find bras with gentle, built-in posture correctors that keep you from hunching over and accumulating fluid in your lymph vessels. You could also try out contour or shaper bras.
Experience the Benefits of Compression Sleeves for Lymphedema
Lymphedema isn’t easy to live with. Still, you can find relief from one of its most common symptoms when you invest in compression sleeves. They can improve everything from your pain levels to your range of motion. If you have swollen arms because of lymphedema, try compression sleeves from Leonisa and see what they can do for you.