Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Lymphedema is a troublesome sequela, or side effect, most commonly in the arm or leg as a result of cancer treatment. When lymph nodes are removed, the highway through which fluids usually travel is impaired. This leaves tissue congested with fluid and wastes that were normally moved along by the lymph nodes. When this happens, the fluid collects, enlarging the arm or leg and causing sometimes painful swelling. The usual treatments involve compression garments and physical therapy.
I was fortunate enough to have a patient seek acupuncture treatment for treatment of lymphedema. I researched protocols for treating this and found a study done by the prestigious Sloan Kettering Hospital. My patient agreed to try the protocol and we embarked in our 4-week, twice a week adventure. We took measurements at the very beginning and at each treatment, taking an additional set of measurements a few days after the patient's last treatment. We chose 3 spots on the patient's arm to take measurements and recorded the results each week.
If you take a look at the chart below, you'll see that after the completion of the protocol, the patient had a 1.8, 1.5, and 1.8 reduction in upper arm, middle of arm, and forearm circumferences respectively. Also important, patient experienced a softening in the tissue of the arm.