What to Know if You're Wheelchair Bound Due to Lymphedema After Uterine Cancer Treatment

One of the potential side effects of uterine cancer treatment is lymphedema, particularly when lymph nodes in the groin are removed as part of the cancer treatment. Sometimes, radiation alone can also affect the lymph nodes and cause secondary lymphedema. Primary lymphedema is when someone is born with the condition.

Lymphedema occurs when excess fluid in the lymph vessels, which should eventually return to the bloodstream, gets blocked and results in localized swelling. When this occurs in the lower extremities, it can make it extremely difficult for the patient to be mobile, which often results in being wheelchair bound. Here's what you need to know. 

You'll Need Physical Therapy

If you have been diagnosed with lymphedema after cancer treatment, ask your doctor if he or she can refer you to a physical therapist. Physical therapy for lymphedema can be improved with manual drainage of the lymphatic system through massage followed by bandaging to compress the lymphatic system. Exercise through physical therapy can also help improve lymphedema. When the localized swelling has gone down and is under control, a physical therapist can develop a sensible exercise program for you to continue. 

You'll Need to Hire a Wheelchair Transport 

You should avoid driving due to the swelling in your lower extremities and particularly when your legs are bandaged during a physical therapy session. To get to your physical therapy treatments and other medical appointments, hire a wheelchair transport service. Make reservations for wheelchair transport ahead of time for each appointment. That way, you won't run the risk of being tempted to drive as your lymphedema swelling hopefully decreases over time. You can also schedule your other transportation needs through them as well, such as for trips to the grocery store, pharmacist, church, and family gatherings. 

You'll Have to Wear a Lymphedema Alert Bracelet 

It is crucial for you to wear a lymphedema medical alert necklace so any first responders are alerted to your condition in case you have a medical emergency or are in a motor vehicle accident. The reason for this is so they will know how to appropriately care for you without interfering with your lymphedema, such as taking blood pressure tests, withdrawing blood, or placing an IV in the affected limb.

Fortunately, your affected limb is in the lower extremity and these things are typically done using an arm. However, if your arms are compromised, such as from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, a necklace will alert the first responders and medical personnel that your affected leg cannot be used for these purposes.