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Compression pumps and taping

Compression pumps and taping are ways of reducing swelling (lymphoedema) caused by damage to lymph nodes after some cancer treatments.

Compression pumps

Mechanical compression pumps are machines. They gently 'squeeze' a swollen limb in a sleeve or boot that inflates and deflates at regular intervals. Lymphoedema can go down quite quickly from an arm or leg but the lymph fluid might collect in the trunk of your body and cause discomfort.

The limb might also swell again quite quickly when the pump is removed. But a pump can sometimes help to soften the tissues of a limb.

If a pump is not used correctly it can damage the limb and might cause more swelling.

Don’t use a pump at all unless your lymphoedema specialist has advised it and has shown you how to use it.

You shouldn't use the pump if:

  • you have an infection or inflammation
  • you have any pain when you use it

You can buy a compression pump privately from a manufacturer. But it is essential that your lymphoedema therapist shows you how to use it.

Taping

Taping is another approach used in the management of lymphoedema. It was originally used for sports injuries. You might also hear it called by its trade name Kinesiotaping.

Your lymphoedema specialist carefully applies a number of narrow tapes onto your skin in the area of the lymphoedema. The idea is that it lifts the skin so that the lymph flows better.

There is limited research into taping as a treatment for lymphoedema. But people with lymphoedema have found that it can help to reduce their swelling when used in combination with other treatments.

Your lymphoedema therapist can teach you to apply the tape yourself. Or they can teach your partner to apply it.

The photo shows an example of kinesio tape used for lymphoedema:

Photograph of Kinesio Lymph.png
Kinesio UK
Last reviewed: 
22 Aug 2019
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    Y Shao and others

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    European Journal of Cancer Care, 2017 Sep;26(5)

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