self-massage for lymphedema

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 857
   Posted 5/1/2006 5:40 AM (GMT -7)   
hello ladies, does anyone know of a website or video that will teach self-massage techniques?  my arm is me, and i just called my therapy place and they cant get me in til next thursday (my fault for waiting this long, but i just quit my job so i am home now and have the time to go!).  i have to do something, i think i can figure out the wrapping but need to try some sort of self-massage first.
thanks a bunch,
"It's been worth everything I've been through,
 To do what I do"

                       To Do What I Do   -Alan Jackson, 2004

army wife
New Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 5/1/2006 8:05 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi, I have gone through therapy with a Lymphadema specialist, and am now able to manage my lymphadema. My arm will never be the same size as my other one, but it's a small price to pay! Be careful trying to wrap without instruction, as you can do more harm than good. There are special bandages used, not just "ace" bandage wraps for sprains etc., that are purchased through a Medical Supply Company, along with cotton for padding etc. There are web sites that allow you to purchase a instruction video, however I nver was able to locate a web page that gave 'free" instruction. The "massage" is VERY light, and basically done in small circular motions from the hand up to shoulder. You must "clear" the lymph glands in the underarm of the non affected side and collar bone area first. This was how my therapist did the procedure anyway. I now have a custom made sleeve/glove and night garmet (new) that I wear when my lymphadema is under control. Someone might know of another option, this is just what I have experienced. Good Luck!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 2921
   Posted 5/2/2006 3:18 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Steph, thank heavens I have not had this situation, but Jo-Ann has and the description above by Nancy sounds like what she did while visiting me. She couldn't get her hospitalization or Medicare to pay for lymphedema treatment and her arm was a real mess, so a therapist taught her and her daughter how to do the massage. I know until you get some help you will feel miserable. Sorry it can't be faster. Hugs MK

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 349
   Posted 5/2/2006 3:51 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi, there. I have a diagram of my exercises. If you have a fax, I'll send it along.


Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2003
Total Posts : 257
   Posted 5/2/2006 6:10 PM (GMT -7)   

Yeah, it's a bad idea to try bandaging on your own as it can make things much worse.....try keeping your affected arm elevated to help the drainage. Also, I find that cold water helps to keep the swelling in check for me.

A great book I have is: Lymphedema by Jeannie Burt and Gwen White. It shows self massage and has a whole bunch of other good info, too.

Also, check out

They have videos, books, etc..the whole shebang.

If you try the self massage (a term which always makes my husband smirk...) remember that it is very different from regular massage: use 2-3 fingers and press very lightly. Too hard will simply close off the lymph capillaries.

Just one MORE fun thing brought to you by cancer, huh!

Hope this helps,




Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2003
Total Posts : 857
   Posted 5/9/2006 11:42 AM (GMT -7)   

thanks all,

i stopped by my therapists office and they gave me a copy of the arm exercises, so that is helping a bit.  my appointment is on thursday and i've decided to bring my digital camera (which can take short .mpg movies) and tape her wrapping me, expecially my hand, since it seems that's the hard part i can never get right. 

my kids said.... beware! Mom's 'mummy arm' is back! yup.


"It's been worth everything I've been through,
 To do what I do"

                       To Do What I Do   -Alan Jackson, 2004

New Member

Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 6/8/2009 12:37 AM (GMT -7)   

With the cost of lymph massages i think it's a good idea to learn how to do them (properly) yourself.

How long do you recommend each session should last? Usually at the clinics they go on for about 30minutes. Should this be the guideline?

I know by taking regular exercise it helps dramatically with the swelling but when would it be best to do the self massage, before or after exercising?

Theres an ebook which i found on which gives great advice on the kinds of exercises which help and it also looks into diet, which has ben a real eye opener. If this helps anyone.

Also, how many times a day should the massage be done?


New Member

Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 12
   Posted 7/4/2009 7:47 AM (GMT -7)   
I was taught how to do the massage and had therapy for 3 weeks.  Now I have been doing it at home for 2 weeks.  I have been good, except for last night.  Use a sleeve during the day and wrap at night.  I do not have a lot of swelling.  Mostly in my hand and 2 fingers.  I hate it but feel I need to do it.  I do not understand why they think this is a life time thing.  How does anyone feel about doing it all the time.
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