Kinesiology Tape for Lymphedema in Breast Cancer Patients
Virtually all treatments for breast cancer involve surgical removal of the cancerous tumor(s). The amount of tissue removed is determined by multiple factors, including the size and type of tumor and how far it has spread. When breast cancer has developed to the point of being “invasive” (having grown beyond the breast into the surrounding tissue), all of the affected tissue must also be removed.
Lymph nodes are small filters located in crucial areas of the body. Their job is to filter and trap harmful substances, including cancer cells, and eliminate them from the body. Because of this function, the lymph nodes located in the armpit or axilla are a likely place to find cancer cells that have escaped from the original tumor.
During breast cancer surgery, the axilary lymph nodes are examined, and any that are cancerous are removed. While this is critical to prevent the spread of the cancer, the removal of large numbers of lymph nodes can significantly reduce the ability to drain excess fluid from the area. This can lead to a condition called lymphedema (also spelled lymphoedema). The primary symptom is an abnormal buildup of fluid, causing swelling and discomfort in the upper body on the same side as the surgery. Although most common in the arm and hand, it can also affect the breast, chest wall or ribcage area.
Other symptoms of lymphedema include:
- Swelling in the breast, chest, shoulder, arm, or hand
- A full or heavy sensation in the arms or legs
- Tightness, hardening or redness of the skin.
- New aching, tingling, or other discomfort in the area
- Decreased flexibility in nearby joints, such as the shoulder, elbow, wrist or hand
- Difficulty fitting into bras or clothing that previously fit
- Rings, watches, and/or bracelets feel tighter than before surgery
Lymphedema can be painful, disfiguring and even life-threatening if left untreated. Conventional treatments include lymphatic drainage massage, compression bandages, wraps or garments and exercises to improve range of motion and encourage lymphatic flow.
Kinesiology Taping for Lymphedema
More recently, excitement has been generated in the lymphedema treatment community about the use of kinesiology taping as an effective modality to reduce the symptoms of lymphedema following breast cancer surgery. Simple to apply and comfortable to wear, kinesiology tape can be applied directly over swollen areas and worn for up to 5 days, enhancing lymphatic drainage the entire time it is worn. Rather than compressing irritated and sensitive tissues, kinesiology tape gently lifts the upper layers of skin, creating a negative pressure that encourages the removal of excess fluid through the lymphatic pathways.
The tape is applied in a fan-like pattern, with narrow “fingers” of tape crisscrossing the surface of the affected area. Lymphatic flow is directed through the lymphatic channels under the strips toward the solid end of the tape that is applied over the lymph duct area.
In the past, these lymphatic drainage strips were cut by hand from rolls of 1”, 2”, 3” or 4” wide kinesiology tape, which could be quite time-consuming. More recently, however, several companies have begun to offer precut edema strips or fan cuts in a variety of widths and lengths. The machine-cut edges of these precut applications greatly reduce the fraying caused by scissors, improving both the appearance and durability of the applications. Following are the 3 major brands of precut edema or fan strips:
Although focused on Kinesio Taping for lymphedema and severe swelling, this manual also covers basic taping techniques for common injuries. The most recently-published manual, it is beautifully illustrated, with simple, step-by-step, full color instructions.
This manual is recommended for individuals with a good understanding of anatomy and medical terminology or experienced professionals who have been trained in the Kinesio® Taping Method.
8.5" x 11" softcover, spiral bound 172 pages with color photos
Chapter List 1. Understanding Lymphoedema and Chronic Swelling 2. Fundamentals of Kinesio Tex Taping 3. Kinesio Taping for Acute Localized Swelling 4. Kinesio Taping of the Deep Lymphatic Pathways for Chronic Swelling 5. Kinesiio Taping of the Collector Lymphatics for Acute or Chronic Swelling 6. Kinesio Taping of the Superficial Lymphatic Pathways for Chronic Swelling 7. Kinesio Taping for Pitting Oedema, Indurated Tissue, Scar Tissue and Chronic Venous Conditions
Fan taping is a simple and effective way to reduce swelling, bruising, and even the severe swelling associated with lymphedema. Applying the tails of the fan tape over the affected area lifts the skin microscopically, enhancing lymphatic drainage. This allows accumulated fluid to drain away, dramtically reducing both edema and the appearance of bruising. The use of Kinesio Taping is so effective that it has become a standard treatment in lymphedema treatment plans. While it used to be tedious work to cut strips of KinesioTape into the thin "tails" required for lymphatic drainage, the introduction of precut Kinesio Fan Strips has made lymphatic taping quick and easy.
* Package contains twelve 2" x 12" fan strips - 3 beige, 3 black, 3 blue and 3 pink.
Edema Strips are a safe, comfortable way to reduce swelling and bruising. Simply apply this light, elastic tape over any swollen area and it immediately goes to work increasing lymphatic drainage. Also called fan strips because they are applied in a fan pattern over the area of swelling or bruising, many people simply call them magic strips because they work so well and so quickly. Select a size to completely cover the affected area
Customize your selection to fit your needs:
Select strip length - 8" or 10"
Select quantity - 15-pack or box of 50
Select color - beige or black
*Not all option combinations are available. If you do not see your desired option in any dropdown list, try changing one or more of the previous options.
Kinesiology tape edema strips are used to reduce swelling, edema, bruises and contusions. Also called fan cuts, these precut strips have several thin "tails" connected to a solid anchor end. The individual tails are positioned over an area of swelling with the anchor end in the vicinity of lymphatic drainage ducts. The tape gently lifts the skin, allowing fluid to drain away from the swollen area through the lymphatic system. This variety pak provides a selection of precut edema strips in assorted lengths and widths from 3 different manufacturers, allowing you to experiment to see which style is best for your condition. If you're not sure which brand or size is right for you, this is a great product to start with. Each pak contains:
Edema strips are used to relieve swelling and bruising. Often called fan cuts, the distinctive "fingers" are spread out along the lymphatic channels to encourage drainage of fluid and blood that accumulates in an area after injury or surgery.
RockTape Precut Edema Strips are 10" long by 4" wide and have a 2" base with 5 individual fingers. Each box contains 20 individual edema applications that can be worn for 5-7 days. Pre-cut edema strips are machine cut with rounded corners, reducing the fraying and curling that can occur when tape is cut by hand. Application is quick and simple. Start by folding and tearing the backing along the cut lines and where the anchor end meets the fingers. Remove the backing from the anchor end and apply according to package directions. Apply the fingers, one at a time, over the swollen or bruised area.
SpiderTech's Medium Fan Lymphatic Tape is a precut kinesiology tape specially designed to reduce swelling, bruising and pain. It can be applied to many areas of the body, including the arm, neck, chest, calf or ankle. It can help with:
swelling or bruising from acute injuries or after surgery
chronic joint swelling
bruises and contusions
* Contains 1 single-use application with 3-5 day wear time.