Lymphoedema Awareness Week 3-9 March 2019

3rd March 2019

Sunday 3rd March marks the start of Lymphoedema Awareness Week 2019 with health professionals encouraging the public to wear odd socks in support of the #sockit campaign.

It is estimated that 6/1000 people in Northern Ireland live with lymphoedema; which is swelling, more commonly of the legs and arms, but also of the genitals, trunk and head and neck areas.

The swelling is often due to genetic failure of the lymphatic vessels; whilst others develop swelling due to damage of the lymphatics; increasingly due to immobility and obesity.

Severity of the condition may range from a very mild swelling to a noticeably swollen limb with severe skin and tissue changes and recurrent cellulitis or skin infections.

Lymphoedema can be reduced and controlled if identified early and the public are encouraged not to ignore swelling that is not resolving and to seek advice from their GP in the first instance.

Jill Lorimer, Lymphoedema Physiotherapist at Belfast Trust advised that patients “may notice that their watch leaves a mark on their wrist, or that their socks leave a mark on their ankles. In the upper limb usually only one arm is affected, whilst in the lower limbs, often both legs are swollen.”

Patients will often be treated with manual lymphatic drainage (massage), compression bandaging, skin care and exercise and then fitted with a compression garment such as stockings or a sleeve to control their symptoms. Patients are taught to self-manage their condition and this will include washing and moisturising the affected limb daily, keeping active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

If you would like to help raise awareness of this long-term condition, The British Lymphology Society are asking people to share pictures of their odd socks on social media with #sockit.