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Arm Elevation

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Research to date has not shown that elevating the arm can improve lymphedema. However, some experts do recommend it for very early-stage lymphedema. “Very early-stage” means that you have noticed some changes in how your arm or hand feels — such as heaviness or tingling — or you have subtle swelling that comes and goes. Typically, elevation involves propping the arm on pillows on a slant, so that your hand is above your wrist and your elbow higher than your shoulder, encouraging the flow of fluid up the arm. You might elevate your arm a few times throughout the day while reading, watching TV, or sitting or lying down for other activities. Ask your lymphedema therapist to show you how to elevate the arm properly, how often, and for how long.

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