DON’T LOSE SLEEP OVER LYMPHEDEMA
Are you reaping the benefits of nighttime compression garments? Are you familiar with them and do you know how effective they can be in the management of lymphedema? Don’t lose sleep over lymphedema, treat your lymphedema while you sleep.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR TO BED!
First, let’s talk about what compression garments not to use while you are lying down or sleeping. Gradient compression stockings are not to be worn at night, unless you are specifically instructed to do so by your therapist or doctor. Because compression stockings work to help pump blood back to the heart, lying down may put too much pressure on the heart, which can be dangerous. There are garments that are specifically designed to work while you are resting, which can be used for both day and night. And then there are garments for nighttime use only. However, gradient compression stockings typically are not worn at night, only during the day when you are ambulatory.
THE VERSATILE WRAP GARMENT
Compression wrap garments are a valuable and versatile choice in garments. Unlike a compression stocking, which prevents the limb from swelling, wrap garments actually help to reduce the affected limb. These wrap garments work much like the bandaging phase of the lymphedema treatment. Even if you are able to wear compression stockings and they work well for you, it’s nice to have a pair of wrap garments to help reduce swelling in case of any flare-ups.
Just like bandaging, wrap garments can be worn 23 hours a day. Compression wrap garments give you the benefit of treatment all day and night. You will need to take them off for at least an hour a day to check your skin, bathe and allow some air to get to the affected area. Not everyone needs to wear the garments at night, as this would be up to your therapist or doctor to determine. Again, if you are experiencing a flare-up in swelling, you might want to wear them at night until the issue is under control again.
Compression garments with foam chips are nighttime garments that provide a gentle lymphatic massage all night long. The foam pressed into the affected area creates tissue stretch and pressure differentials. This encourages re-absorption of lymphatic fluid and helps move that lymph. Many of these garments are custom made, but there are some high-quality, effective over-the-counter garments, as well. Sigvaris makes a beautiful chip sleeve for the arm and hand. This garment comes up high on the Axilla and also covers the hand with a separation for the thumb. Sigvaris Chip Sleeve comes with a cover to help push the foam chips in and gives you effective therapy while you sleep.
L&R makes a garment called the TributeWrap that consists of a wrap and chip-sleeve in one. This garment also comes with an outside cover that helps push the foam chips into the affected area. The cover also protects the Velcro tabs from pulling up at night while you sleep. The wrap part of this garment gives you the benefit of adjusting the garment as the limb reduces and changes size.
A less expensive alternative to these chip foam garments is the Caresia. The Caresia is designed to be used in the treatment phase under bandaging. However, some therapists like to use this as an alternative nighttime garment due to its effectiveness and its cost savings. When using the Caresia, you will want to wrap a short stretch bandage around the outside in order to get the most benefits. This will push those foam chips into the affected area and move lymph out.
Take advantage of the therapeutic benefits of nighttime compression garments while you sleep. Let the compression garments do the work for you, treating the affected lymphedema limb and moving that lymph fluid all night long.