Brief introduction to lymphedema
Lymphedema is the progressive disorder of the lymphatic system which is a caused due to an impairment or obstruction in the normal lymphatic flow of the body and results in the abnormal accumulation and retention of protein rich lymph in the interstitial spaces and tissues of the body. This chronic condition exclusively affects the upper and lower limbs of the body, presenting characteristic symptoms such as restriction in the range of movement, a felling of tightness and heaviness, swelling, dull pain in the affected area, fluid accumulation in the form of pitting and non pitting edema, limb enlargement followed by deformation, and eventually the loss of function of the affected limb.
Although the current status of the disease tells us that it is incurable once it is diagnosed in patients, it is also a fact that there are various therapies and practices that can effectively reduce the amount of swelling and edema associated with the development and progression of the disease. One of the most effective therapies in the treatment and management of lymphedema is the compression therapy, which is also an important component of the Complex or Complete Decongestive Therapy. This is a combination therapy which is known all over the world as currently being the most efficient and effective way of treating the disease.
Acupuncture is the ancient technique of Chinese origin, which involves the insertion of fine needle in the pressure point of the body. The purpose of this therapy is:
- Relieving pain
- Providing relief from stress
- Aiming to relax the pressure points of the body
Acupuncture for lymphedema is a treatment option that has gained a lot of popularity but unfortunately has no scientific basis in the contribution to the treatment and management of the disease. The basic principles of the technique remain the same in acupuncture for lymphedema, with certain additional features according to the symptoms of the disease, which are enlisted as follows:
- One of the symptoms of lymphedema is dull pain, and acupuncture for lymphedema aims to relieve that pain
- There are some theories that lead to the belief that acupuncture for lymphedema can also cause weight loss that occurs as a result of the progression of the disease, but there are no scientific facts that can prove this notion
- Acupuncture for lymphedema management and treatment also aims to provide a stress free environment for patients, generating a positive feeling which is essential in the process of coping with the disease
There are many lymphedema patients all over the world that use acupuncture therapy for the treatment of the condition but the truth lies in the fact that there is no significant contribution of this therapy in the management, control or prevention of the different symptoms of the disease from occurring, and therefore only plays a role as an effective stress and pain reliever.