Image from Lymphoedema Support

Many of our Wingz customers come to us because they are suffering with lymphoedema, or the less well-known condition, lipoedema. Both of these conditions can cause an accumulation of fatty tissue or fluid on legs and arms, and a product like Wingz can be really helpful if women need a little boost in confidence, and to be able to carry on wearing their favourite tops even if they are short sleeved or sleeveless.

There was a story in the news this week about women who develop lymphoedema following treatment for breast cancer, which is something that can often happen. Experts have suggested that exercise should be encouraged after treatment to help treat and prevent the condition from developing. It’s an interesting idea; one in five people who has treatment for breast cancer will also go on to develop lymphoedema, and it’s something that many women aren’t aware of until it happens to them.

According to NICE, exercise could also help to improve wellbeing after stressful cancer treatment, so it’s recommended for that reason, too. Lymphoedema can be really painful, and lead to loss of mobility in serious cases. It happens if the lymphatic system is damaged during treatment and can’t drain fluid out as it used to – the fluid builds up  and blocks the system.

It tends to develop in the arms and chest in people who have had surgery and radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer, which can be a distressing side effect after all the upheaval of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Health professionals are being encouraged to talk about the benefits of exercise with people undergoing treatment, as there seems to be a misconception that exercise actually makes the condition worse rather than better.

Professor Mark Baker, director of the NICE centre for clinical practice, said: “Some people may be cautious of taking up exercise as they may think it could make their lymphoedema worse or bring it about in the first place.

“Our proposed new recommendations should clear up any confusion relating to the role that exercise can play for people with or at risk of this condition.”

Don’t overdo it straight after treatment – if you’ve just been through the stress of radiotherapy or surgery, the best thing to do is have a chat with your specialist nurse or doctor, and see what they advise depending on your age and general health. But keep on moving, because can help keep your joints supple and is also helpful with lymph drainage, while tailored exercises can be useful if swelling restricts movement of the arm.

Useful exercises from Lymphoedema Support