Lymphoedema can have a significant impact on a patient’s physical, psychological, social and financial wellbeing. Its early detection and appropriate management are pivotal in reducing the unnecessary suffering of affected patients.
- GPs will see both patients at risk of lymphoedema (for whom prevention is crucial) and those who already have lymphoedema.
- Early detection of lymphoedema and intervention significantly improve patient outcomes, and early referral of patients to a qualified lymphoedema practitioner for treatment will achieve the best outcomes.
- Compression is the mainstay of lymphoedema management but must be carefully prescribed to prevent adverse effects.
- Lymphatic insufficiency may be an underlying cause for patients presenting with limb cellulitis; control of the swelling can reduce the frequency of cellulitis episodes.
- GPs can facilitate prompt antibiotic therapy for lymphoedema-related cellulitis, which can present differently from classic cellulitis and usually requires a longer course of antibiotics.
- Simple strategies can become part of an everyday routine for patients with support from their GP and lymphoedema practitioner.
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