Lymphoedema the silent but complex comorbidity
This talk aims to give information to better assist allied health professionals to have a better understanding of lymphoedema and its complexity in relation to other health issues. It also hopes to assist in timely referral pathways as well as assisting allied health professionals to support their patients with informed decisions about their options for treatment in an effort to reduce comorbidities. Furthermore, this talk’s intentions is to support enhancing relationships through fostering improved quality of life for your patients.
It should be understood that Lymphoedema is a condition that is best treated across multiple disciplines and therefore a multi-disciplinary approach to information sharing is essential.
Lymphoedema arises as a result of a mechanical failure of the lymphatic system. The condition usually affects the limb(s) although it may also involve the trunk, breast, head and neck or genital area.
Lymphoedema may arise because the lymphatic vessels or nodes have been damaged (secondary) or were not formed correctly (primary). Primary and secondary lymphoedema can occur together.
Secondary is the most common and the incidence is on the rise. This is partly due to the increase in cancers and their treatments such as the removal of lymph nodes, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. When the lymphatic system is overloaded there is an accumulation of excessive protein-rich fluid resulting in swelling of one or more regions of the body.
Medication is rarely a treatment for lymphoedema and there are many causes besides cancer and lifestyle.
With the rolling out of NDIS, there has been an increase in diagnosis of comorbid LO especially in dependent oedema. This appears to have come about as participants are now able to access appropriate treatment and therapies to address and reduce the impact on their reduced function, independence and care level.
This talk should assist in recognising when and how and who to refer to. It should also assist in helping clinicians understand treatment options which are current best practice for their patients.