Compression therapy, like manual lymph drainage (MLD), exercises and skin care, is a main element of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). In most cases of lymphedema, the elastic fibers in skin tissues affected by lymphedema are damaged and unable to provide adequate resistance against the musculature working underneath, and the blood and lymph vessels within these tissues. External compression compensates for the elastic insufficiency of the affected tissue, providing the resistance necessary to maintain the reduction of the swelling and to prevent re-accumulation of lymphedemateous fluid.Compression bandages are used during the decongestive (intensive) phase of CDT. In this sequence of the treatment the volume of the affected limb changes almost on a daily basis, and it is necessary that external compression adapts to these changes. Bandages are much better suited for this task than compression garments (sleeves, stockings), which would have to be re-fitted constantly.
Why Short-Stretch Bandages Are Used For The Treatment Of Lymphedema:
Crucial in lymphedema management is to provide the skin tissues with a solid counterforce against the muscles working underneath, particularly while standing, sitting, walking, or performing therapeutic exercises. The subsequent increase in the tissue pressure during muscle activity promotes lymphatic and venous return, and prevents fluid from accumulating in the skin. It is equally important to prevent the bandages from exerting too much pressure on the tissues during rest, which could cause a tourniquet effect and effectively prevent adequate return of these fluids.The pressure the bandage exerts on the tissues at rest, i.e. without muscle contraction is known as the resting pressure, which is permanent. Relevant to these pressure qualities are the number of bandage layers, the tension with which these layers are applied, and most importantly the type of bandage used.
Care for short-stretch compression bandages:
As with garments, without washing on a regular/daily basis, skin cells and oils will become trapped in the fibers and damage the integrity of the textile. Compression bandages may be machine or hand washed.
It is best to have more than one set of bandages (one to wear, one to wash), which should be applied alternately to allow the elasticity to recover and to prolong their effectiveness.