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  • Writer's pictureLisa Chadsey

How light therapy can help with Lymphedema

When it comes to health issues and problems, nothing feels quite as defeating as the weight of knowing one of your loved ones has Cancer. Or for some of you, that you’ve received that diagnosis yourself. My heart goes out to all of you in this place and I want you to know that though it’s not an easy space to be in, you aren’t alone.

There are ways to care for your body with diet and rest, especially in the creation of separation from stress to allow your body to focus it’s energy on healing and recovery. Now, as you know me well enough, I want to tie in how the power of light therapy can serve you in this journey for recovery.

Now, there are many different kinds of cancer so I want to start by diving into common health issues that can arise from cancer, so I want to talk with you specifically about Lymphedema which isn’t cancerous technically, but is often caused by cancerous cells.

What is Lymphedema?

“Lymphedema refers to tissue swelling caused by an accumulation of protein-rich fluid that's usually drained through the body's lymphatic system. It most commonly affects the arms or legs, but can also occur in the chest wall, abdomen, neck and genitals.” (Mayo Clinic, Article 1.)

Lymphedema occurs when your body's lymph vessels aren’t able to drain the natural lymphatic fluids that build up in your body. This most commonly occurs in the arm or leg but can occur in other spots.

What are some of the symptoms of Lympedema?

*This is referenced from the Mayo Clinic*

  • Restricted range of motion in your appendages

  • Swelling of part or all of the arm or leg, including fingers or toes

  • Recurring infections

  • Hardening and thickening of the skin (fibrosis)

  • A feeling of heaviness or tightness in these areas that is more intense than normal

What can cause Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is most commonly caused by:

*This is referenced from the Mayo Clinic*

  • Cancerous cells. If cancer cells block lymph vessels, this can result in the buildup of fluids and the swelling of your arms and legs. For instance, a tumor growing near a lymph node or lymph vessel could enlarge enough to block the flow of the lymph fluid.

  • Radiation treatment. Radiation can cause scarring and inflammation of lymph nodes or lymph vessels which can lead to blockage as well.

  • Parasites. In developing countries in the tropics, the most common cause of lymphedema is infection with threadlike worms that clog the lymph nodes and lead to inflammation and swelling.

  • Surgery. With surgery that is performed for the removal of cancerous cells and tumors, lymph nodes are often removed to see if the disease has spread. This can cause blockage, but doesn’t always lead to lymphedema.

How does light therapy help?

Light therapy helps in so many different ways. But the core thing that it does to help with Lymphedema is to utilize the red lights used in light therapy. This stimulates the mitochondria in your cells which allows your body to produce the energy it needs to regulate itself and focus on unblocking the lymphatic system.

On top of this, the infrared lights can reach deeper into the body to target muscles and nerves that increase blood flow, and then reduce inflammation. This can help to repair damage in the lymphatic system and leads to less pain and more natural movement.

What does the science say?

That light therapy does help reduce pain and inflammation with Lymphedema. It’s also worth noting that research on light therapy as a treatment for this is just starting to grow. As more science comes in I will share it with you here.

“Forty patients with unilateral lymphedema were enrolled in this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in order to evaluate effects of PBMT on lymphedema-related pain.”

And the final results of the experiment were as such, “post-treatment, a 50% reduction in median pain scores and an increase in mean quality of life were observed. Mean grip strength was persistently higher after eight sessions of PBMT compared with pretreatment.” (Article 2.)

There is so much to learn about the world of health & protecting your body can feel overwhelming. I’m here to help you in this journey, so please reach out to me if there is anything that you need!

With Love,

~Lisa Chadsey


If you want to learn more about Light Therapy & my Light Therapy work, you can follow me with the links below, or email me at - thank you for reading!

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