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The Hospice has two Lymphoedema Clinics, one based at the Hospice and the other in Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre, South Shields. This service provides assessment and treatment for patients with mild uncomplicated Lymphoedema through to complex and highly complicated cases.
Lymphoedema is a term used to describe a soft tissue swelling that can happen anywhere in the body but most commonly affects the limbs. Lymphoedema can be described as Primary or Secondary depending on the cause.
Primary lymphoedema may be present at birth, develops at puberty or in mid-life and relates to the abnormal function/development of the lymphatic system.
Secondary lymphoedema may occur following treatment for cancer, surgery, radiotherapy, recurrent infection called cellulitis, trauma and obesity.
If lymphoedema is left untreated there is a risk that it may worsen overtime. Lymphoedema is not curable but there are ways to control and manage the symptoms that can also help to improve quality of life.
St. Clare’s Lymphoedema Clinic runs between the two sites of St Clare’s hospice and Cleadon Park Primary Care Centre for two days each week. The clinic is run by a specialist lymphoedema nurse and covers those patients living in South Tyneside.
Patients from the age of 17 years are referred to the service from GP’s, consultants, and Specialist Nurses and from any health care professional who suspects a patient has lymphoedema.
Patient who have lymphoedema are taught to manage and care for their condition with the support of the lymphoedema service. Patients are taught how to care for their skin using moisturising soaps and creams which will help to prevent skin infections. Patients are encouraged to use the affected limb normally, to stay active, to perform simple exercises and massage techniques which will stimulate the lymphatic drainage to the affected area.
The use of compression garments such as arm sleeves and stockings are encouraged daily. At times the affected area may need to be compressed using specialist bandaging or specialist massage techniques. This care is usually carried out by a specially trained health care professional.
Soft tissue swelling can occur for other reasons other than lymphoedema so it is best to have a full assessment by a health professional.
GP’s, Consultants, Specialist Nurses or from any health professional involved with the patient who suspects they have lymphoedema.
Sandra Carmen, Lymphoedema Nurse - 0191 529 7100 Available Monday, Tuesday or Wednesdays