Lymphoedema & Lipoedema

Overview

Lymphoedema is a long-term (chronic) condition which results in a build-up of fluid in the tissues and is caused by an impaired lymph system. The word Lymphoedema literally means ‘swelling caused by a build-up of lymph fluid.’

Our lymph system is extremely sensitive and can fail for a number of reasons. Lymph vessels can get blocked or shut down throughout the process of draining fluid from our tissues, valves between lymph vessels can become damaged and allow a backflow of fluid towards the tissues, or simply the ability of our lymph vessels to contract can deteriorate. Any of these impairments to our lymph system will result in the fluid collecting within our tissues and lymph vessels which causes the swelling which is seen with this condition.

Lymphoedema can develop in various ways. It normally starts as a mild swelling which might initially ease off, but at some point, will return and then become more permanent. As physical activity helps to regulate the lymph system, the effects of an impaired lymph system can often be seen during prolonged periods of inactivity, for example on a long-haul flight.

Lipoedema is a bi-lateral swelling of the limbs which primarily effects the lower legs and thighs although may also be seen in the arms. The condition is caused by an excess build-up of fat cells just under the skin, which appears pale and feel cold to touch. The swelling generally presents symmetrically in the affected limbs, which appear much larger in proportion to the rest of the body. Unlike lymphoedema, the hands and feet remain unaffected with lipoedema, so a ‘cuff like’ effect is often visible at the wrists or ankles. The physical burden of carrying the excess weight commonly gives rise to joint pain, limited mobility and problems with posture and gait.

Physical Activity & Lymphoedema / Lipoedema

Lymphoedema can be a very challenging condition to deal with, however its key to remember that becoming more active through increasing our everyday movements can be an extremely effective way in helping you manage your lymphoedema. Here at KiActiv® we promote the message that every movement matter, with the aim of shifting the focus from exercise to all types of activity which we can incorporate into our everyday lives. 

Keeping moving is also crucial for people with lipoedema and can prevent symptoms from getting worse. By helping to manage weight, and improve lymph flow and drainage, KiActiv® is a powerful tool for managing your condition and for better health. At present, there is no known cure for lipoedema but if identified early, it can be effectively managed to greatly reduce the physical, psychological and social impacts of the condition.

Although there is currently no known cure for either lymphoedema or lipoedema (or other lymphatic conditions), effective treatment plans can be adapted to each individual case and put into action at any stage of the condition, with the primary aim being to alleviate symptoms to a practicable level and ultimately to put you back in control of your health, and your life. Good lymph flow is vital to your system, and every move makes it better. This is because, unlike your blood, which is moved around the body by your heart, the lymph system has no pump, and for good lymph flow, you really need to move!

The Benefits of Physical Activity for Lymphoedema / Lipoedema

Movement stimulates the flow of fluid through the lymph system. Muscle movement is the mechanism which drives the ‘drainage function’ of the lymph system. The body is designed so that the movements we make during our everyday activities involve the expansion and contraction of the various muscles in our bodies. These muscle movements massage and squeeze the tissues around them, forcing excess fluid out of the tissues and into the lymph vessels. When the muscles relax and the ‘squeeze’ stops, the tissues re-coil, so allowing the now empty lymph vessels to suck up more fluid from the tissues. Therefore, every move you make matters.

Whether that movement is achieved through physical activity in a more structured manner or through the general activities of everyday life, any activity will enable our lymph system to perform its job effectively. Indeed, physical activity and everyday movement are the key foundations of a successful treatment programme.

As well as increasing the flow of lymph fluid to help reduce swelling, physical activity can:

  • help you maintain a healthy weight
  • keep your joints flexible, maintaining and improving your range of movement
  • help you feel better about yourself
  • reduce stress and anxiety

How do we Help?

Our experts, with the help of patients and clinicians, have created a unique and personalised approach to improving physical activity, which is accessible to everyone. It involves no visits to clinics or gyms, but just simple changes to your everyday life that will help alleviate your symptoms.

It is not about sport or exercises or even counting steps, but finding the value of movement in your daily routine. This gives you approximately ~112 waking hours per week to find the opportunity to move more.

Physical activity has multiple dimensions and they all are independently important to your health. We will help you find the answers to these questions and what they mean for you.

Our clinically proven programme is supported by a dedicated mentor who will guide you in making simple changes to your lifestyle, without compulsion or prescription, just you deciding how to make the most of your daily routine and the opportunities it holds. 

By joining us, you will learn how to take control of your condition with everyday physical activity, and be empowered to make better choices for a brighter future.

LymphActiv is powered by KiActiv®, which is a clinically proven behaviour change programme for physical activity that is used by the NHS and others in the prevention and management of many long-term conditions.

Client Quotes

“I feel much better body-wise. I’m grateful that it’s giving me the chance to learn how to live a better life, not just sitting.” 59, Female, Lymphoedema

“I feel more springy and lighter on my legs.” – 59, Female, Lymphoedema

“It really changed my life; it’s helped more than just my lymphoedema.” 57, Female, Lymphoedema & Lipoedema

“She was seen today as her garments no longer fit and was re-measured. She has participated in the Ki-active for three months, has been on a keto diet for the last month and has reduced some weight. She had been on the keto diet last year when she lost some weight prior to starting programme. She has reduced limb volume on the thighs and is happy with the progress she has achieved.” 59, Female, Lymphoedema

“I am definitely more active generally as a result of the programme. Other fitness trackers may tell you have completed enough steps/calories for the day after a morning workout, you can then think that’s it for the day but KiActiv makes sure you keep moving throughout the day which has really helped my lymphedema.”49, Female, Lymphoedema

“It’s made me change and reflect more on movement and what I can do. It’s only me that can do something about it [her lipoedema], it’s only me that can do that movement.”46, Female, Lipoedema

“It makes me feel that I’m doing more to help me feel better. I feel I’m a bit more in control.” 46, Female, Lipoedema

“Possibly the best medicine I could have is physical activity”49, Male, Lymphoedema, ex-Coma Patient.