Reducing Your Sodium Intake
You should meet with your doctor to discuss the sodium requirements of your diet.Consider how much sodium you consume from food and beverages. Do you find yourself drinking lots of energy drinks or sport drinks? Do you snack on salty foods often? Checking food and drink labels for sodium content is a great way to track your sodium intake throughout the day.
Watch out for these common high sodium foods:
- Preserved foods
What Is The Connection Between Hand
Chemotherapy drugs contain chemicals that kill cancer cells. These chemicals can also damage healthy cells in your body, especially those that replicate quickly such as skin cells, blood cells, and cells inside your hair follicles. Damage to these cells can lead to side effects.
The exact way that hand-foot syndrome develops isnt well understood, but it occurs when the chemicals from the drugs leak into the tissues of your hands and feet from small blood vessels. Its thought that different classes of chemotherapy drugs may cause tissue damage in slightly different ways.
Your soles and palms contain beds of small blood vessels called capillaries. When chemotherapy drugs leak out of these blood vessels, they can damage the surrounding cells. Skin cells in your palms and soles tend to divide more quickly than other parts of your skin, which makes them particularly prone to damage from chemotherapy drugs.
Your feet also have a high concentration of eccrine sweat glands. Some chemotherapy drugs may accumulate in these glands.
For the chemotherapy drug capecitabine,
most common dermatological chemotherapy side effects, along with hair loss and mouth sores. Studies report that 5 to 62 percent of patients treated with sorafenib or sunitinib develop hand-foot syndrome, with severe symptoms occurring in about 6 to 8 percent of people.
Some chemotherapy drugs are more likely to cause hand-foot syndrome than others. The most common drugs to cause hand-foot syndrome are:
Managing Fluid Retention After Chemotherapy
The following tips can help you manage fluid retention after chemotherapy:
- Avoid tight clothing. Wearing loose clothing will make you feel comfortable and help to improve circulation.
- Reduce intake of salty foods. Eating foods high in salt can cause your body to retain fluid.
- Elevate the affected area. This will minimize the flow of fluid into the area.
- Exercise. Moving the part of your body impacted by edema will help blood flow and improve circulation.
- Wear compression stockings. Compression stockings generate pressure which helps to reduce the build-up of fluid in the tissues and reduce swelling.
Some patients may need physical therapy or occupational therapy to relieve edema. If your fluid retention is severe, we may have to prescribe medication, specifically a diuretic, which will help remove the excess fluid and salt from your body. These medications should be taken as prescribed.
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How Is Lymphedema Diagnosed
First, your doctor will examine you and ask you when you first noticed the problem. If your arm or leg is swollen, your doctor may measure it to compare it with your other arm or leg. Usually, if your swollen arm or leg is 2cm bigger than your other arm or leg, you have lymphedema.
Your doctor may also suggest other tests to find out if you have lymphedema and if so, what is causing it. Lymphoscintigraphy is a test that uses radioactive material to see if the lymph vessels are blocked. Computed tomography scans and magnetic resonance imaging can take pictures of the swollen area to find out why the lymph vessels are blocked.
This photo shows a person with lymphedema in the left leg.
What Are The Causes Of Edema
Edema is a common condition for people with cancer. It can be caused by cancer, cancer treatment, or another problem that is unrelated to the cancer. Common causes of edema in people with cancer include:
Certain types of cancer. Some types of cancer, like kidney, liver, and ovarian cancers, are more likely to cause edema.
Chemotherapy. Some types of chemotherapy, including cisplatin and docetaxel , can cause edema.
Other medications. Other medications given during cancer treatment or to treat other health conditions can cause edema. These include:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen or naproxen
Some blood pressure medications
Nutrition problems. Low levels of protein in the blood, caused by poor nutrition, can lead to edema. This condition can cause fluid to leak from inside blood vessels to the surrounding tissue.
Physical inactivity. People with cancer may be unable to exercise or find it more difficult to exercise. This can cause fluid to collect in the legs. Regular physical activity helps pump extra fluid back to the heart and prevents edema. Talk with your health care team about how to add more physical activity into your daily routine.
Other health problems. Edema can also be a side effect of kidney, liver, or heart problems. A blood clot in the leg or arm can cause swelling. Damage to lymph nodes and lymph vessels during surgery can also cause edema. When this happens, it is called lymphedema.
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Soak In A Cool Epsom Salt Bath For About 15 To 20 Minutes
Epsom salt may not only help with muscle pain. It may also reduce swelling and inflammation. The theory is that Epsom salt draws out toxins and increases relaxation.
Just make sure to get Epsom salts marked with the USP designation. This means that it meets standards set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is safe to use.
Elevate Your Feet Preferably Above Your Heart
Prop your feet on cushions, pillows, or even things like phone books, when you sleep. If youre looking to reduce foot swelling while pregnant, try elevating your feet several times a day as well. Aim for about 20 minutes at a time, even on an ottoman or a chair.
Try to avoid standing for long periods of time and stay off your feet when you can.
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When To See Your Podiatrist
Often, over-the-counter medication can be used to treat an infected toenail. If this does not work or if your toenails are inflamed or painful, it is time to consult with your podiatrist.
Your podiatrist can prescribe medication to treat the infection and relieve you from the pain. You deserve to be as comfortable as possible while undergoing cancer treatment, so do not hesitate to contact our office with any questions or concerns you have about the effect of chemotherapy on your feet.
Chemo Brain And Stress
Many people experience mental changes after chemotherapy treatment. This is sometimes called chemo brain. You may have problems such as poor memory, trouble finding words, difficulty focusing. This can affect parts of your life, including caring for your family and managing your job.
Some things that help with chemo brain include keeping a calendar, writing everything down, and exercising your brain with puzzles and reading. Try to focus on 1 task at a time instead of more than 1 task. You can also work with an occupational therapist for cognitive behavioral rehabilitation. This is a treatment to help you if you have cognitive issues. Occupational therapists work in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Occupational and Physical Therapy. For more information about cognitive behavioral rehabilitation, talk with your healthcare provider for a referral.
Try to avoid having goals for yourself that are too high. This can add to your stress level and frustration. Most people say it takes 6 to 12 months after they finish chemotherapy before they truly feel like themselves again. Read the resource Managing Cognitive Changes for more information about managing chemo brain.
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How To Cite Asbestoscoms Article
Leer, B. . Managing Chemotherapy Side Effect: Swelling in the Hands and Feet. Asbestos.com. Retrieved September 21, 2022, from https://www.asbestos.com/blog/2012/03/12/chemotherapy-side-effect-swelling-hands-feet/
Leer, Ben. “Managing Chemotherapy Side Effect: Swelling in the Hands and Feet.” Asbestos.com, 16 Oct 2020, https://www.asbestos.com/blog/2012/03/12/chemotherapy-side-effect-swelling-hands-feet/.
Leer, Ben. “Managing Chemotherapy Side Effect: Swelling in the Hands and Feet.” Asbestos.com. Last modified October 16, 2020. https://www.asbestos.com/blog/2012/03/12/chemotherapy-side-effect-swelling-hands-feet/.
What Is The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is a network of tiny vessels and small, bean-shaped organs called lymph nodes that carry lymph throughout the body. Lymph is a clear, colorless fluid that contains a few blood cells. It starts in many organs and tissues. The lymphatic system is part of your immune system. It helps protect and maintain the fluid balance of your body by filtering and draining lymph and waste products away from each body region. The lymphatic system also helps the body fight infection.
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Ways To Prevent Or Lessen Edema
Steps you can take to prevent or lessen edema-related swelling include:
- Get comfortable. Wear loose clothing and shoes that are not too tight. When you sit or lie down, raise your feet with a stool or pillows. Avoid crossing your legs when you sit. Talk with your health care team about wearing special stockings, sleeves, or gloves that help with circulation if your swelling is severe.
- Exercise. Moving the part of your body with edema can help. Your doctor may give you specific exercises, including walking, to improve circulation. However, you may be advised not to stand or walk too much at one time.
- Limit salt in your diet. Avoid foods such as chips, bacon, ham, and canned soup. Check food labels for the sodium content. Dont add salt or soy sauce to your food.
- Take your medicine. If your doctor prescribes a medicine called a diuretic, take it exactly as instructed. The medicine will help move the extra fluid and salt out of your body.
Preventing Infection And Injury
Protecting the arm on the side of the surgery is very important after breast surgery. Poor drainage of the lymphatic system can cause that arm to be more at risk of infection and less sensitive to extreme temperature. Be aware of activities that put too much pressure on the affected arm. To protect your arm from injury and infection, make sure to do the following:
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Why Lymphedema Occurs
There are two different types of lymphedema. Primary lymphedema happens if the lymph system develops abnormally. Symptoms may present at birth, but not always.
Secondary lymphedema occurs when the lymph system is damaged. This may happen for reasons including:
- Cancerous tumor blocking the lymph system
- Reaction when lymph nodes or vessels are removed during surgery
These changes may seem insignificant at first, but may worsen over time.
How Is Edema Managed
If edema is caused by medication, poor nutrition, or a lack of exercise, adjusting medications and trying to improve nutrition and physical activity can treat edema. If edema caused by cancer or by other health conditions, you and your health care team can work together to treat the underlying cause and to reduce swelling and relieve symptoms directly.
Treating edema with medications. A type of medication called a diuretic may be able to help relieve edema. Diuretics are also called water pills. They help you urinate more to get rid of extra fluid.
Eating and exercise changes. Eating a balanced diet, especially watching how much salt you eat, can help relieve edema. Walking and other exercises can make you feel better. Do not reduce the amount of water or other fluids you drink without talking to your doctor.
Managing discomfort. At home, there are some ways to try relieving discomfort from edema.
Raise the affected area when sitting or lying down to reduce swelling
Avoid standing for long periods or sitting with your legs crossed
Wear compression stockings, special gloves, or elastic sleeves to help push fluids back into your circulation system
Wear loose-fitting clothing and shoes
Physical therapy and occupational therapy. For some people with edema, physical therapy and occupational therapy can help. Talk to your health care team about these or other cancer rehabilitative professionals could help relieve your edema. Learn more about cancer rehabilitation.
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Improving Surgical Management Of Lymphedema
For patients with lymphedema, the most common treatment approach is to reduce swelling with compression and massage therapy and/or diet modification. But some patients find greater relief with surgical management. Learn more about the outpatient operation that can reroute the venous system.
LiveWell After Breast Cancer | Yoga Workout #1
LiveWell after breast cancer is The Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center initiative to get breast cancer survivors and their families moving, through fun and easy exercise routines. Exercise for every level and ability with modifications shown along the way. See more exercises for women diagnosed with breast cancer.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cipn
CIPN generally affects both sides of your body the same way. Symptoms are likely to begin in your toes but can move to your feet, legs, hands, and arms. Symptoms range from mild to severe. Some of the more common symptoms are:
- tingling or pins-and-needles sensation
Symptoms can appear as soon as chemotherapy begins. Symptoms tend to get worse as the chemotherapy regimen progresses.
Its a temporary problem for some, lasting only a few days or weeks.
For others, it can last for months or years and can even become a lifelong problem. This may be more likely if you have other medical conditions that cause neuropathy or take other prescription drugs that cause it.
Once your oncologist determines that your peripheral neuropathy is caused by chemotherapy, they will monitor your treatment to see if symptoms are worsening. In the meantime, symptoms can be treated with:
- steroids to reduce inflammation
If symptoms continue, your doctor may decide to:
- lower the dose of your chemotherapy drug
- switch to a different chemotherapy drug
- delay chemotherapy until symptoms improve
- stop chemotherapy
Its very important to work with your doctor to prevent neuropathy from getting worse. In addition, there are a few other things you can do, such as:
- relaxation therapy, guided imagery, or breathing exercises
- massage therapy
Be sure to ask your doctor about complementary therapies before you start.
Temperature sensitivity can also be a problem.
Here are a few additional tips:
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Talking With Your Health Care Team About Edema
Prepare for your visit by making a list of questions to ask. Consider adding these questions to your list:
- Are my medications or treatment likely to increase my risk of developing edema?
- Are there steps I can take to prevent edema?
- What symptoms or problems should I call you about?
- What steps can I take to feel better if I notice swelling?
- Are there foods, drinks, or activities I should avoid?
- Reviewed:October 22, 2021
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Leg Swelling After Cancer Treatment: What Can You Do
Lymphedema is the abnormal buildup of fluid in soft tissue that happens when the lymphatic system is blocked. Certain types of cancer treatment can damage the lymphatic system and increase the chances of developing lymphedema. While people may be most familiar with lymphedema in the arm after breast cancer treatment, lymphedema can occur in other parts of the body after treatment for other cancers. For instance, some cancer treatment can lead to lymphedema in the legs, particularly treatment that targets the groin.
What is the lymphatic system and what is its role in removing waste and protecting the body from infection?
How can treatment for cancer affect the lymphatic system and increase the risk of developing lymphedema?
When do symptoms of lymphedema usually appear?
What are some of the early symptoms or signs of lymphedema to watch for?
What are some things people can do to reduce their risk of developing leg lymphedema after cancer treatment?
How is leg lymphedema treated? What is the goal of treatment?
What are some things to watch for after a lymphedema diagnosis?
What is important to know about finding and working with a lymphedema therapist?
Dr. Cheville is the Director of Cancer Rehabilitation and Lymphedema Services in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic. Jenny Bradt is a LANA-Certified Lymphedema Therapist and Clinical Lead Physical Therapist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic.
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What Causes Lymphedema
Lymphedema can be caused by cancer or by cancer treatment.
- Sometimes a cancerous tumor can get big enough to block the lymph system.
- Surgery to remove cancer may also remove lymph nodes or some of the vessels that carry the lymph fluid. This can cause the fluid to build up in surrounding tissues.
- Radiation treatment can damage the lymph vessels, resulting in too much lymph fluid in the tissues.
Diagram of the lymph system.
What Is Lymphedema
When the lymph system is functioning effectively, lymph travels through the body. When it cant flow through the body properlybecause the lymph system is damaged or blocked, preventing lymph from circulating normallylymphedema happens.
Lymphedema is the buildup of lymph fluid in the soft body tissues, often in the arms and legs. It visibly results in swelling.
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