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How can early-stage lymphedema be treated?

The cause of lymphedema can be a primary condition that one is born with, or secondary which is caused by an event in one’s life.  In many cases, upper extremity lymphedema begins due to the treatment for breast cancer. Early detection of symptoms of lymphedema can help reduce the proliferation of the disease. When diagnosed with lymphedema, treatment with a certified lymphedema therapist will consist of manual massage therapy, a skin care protocol, nutrition plan and use of compression therapy.


How do lymphedema compression sleeves work?

For early-stage, or mild lymphedema, a compression arm sleeve or glove or gauntlet are typically prescribed for initial treatment. These garments apply pressure to the arm, hand or both to promote lymph fluid movement to the body core.  Properly fit compression arm sleeves are tighter at the wrist/hand area and gradually decrease pressure up the length of the arm to move the lymph fluid out of the arm.

A lymphedema therapist or a durable medical equipment store can assist with finding the right compression arm sleeve. The medi lymphedema program has a selection of arm sleeves to best meet the needs of the patient:

mediven® comfort introductory arm sleeve for early-stage lymphedema with a custom-like fit available in 8 sizes and 2 lengths.

mediven® harmony the perfect balance between soft and performance, now clinically proven to prevent lymphedema progression when applied early.

mediven® mondi flat-knit Robust material with a flavor of fashion


It is important that any compression arm sleeve be properly fit by a trained compression technician.

What compression arm sleeves are best for early-stage lymphedema?

The severity of lymphedema determines the applied pressure required, the stiffness or containment level of the material and the style of the product.    Early-stage lymphedema typically has relatively low edema or swelling levels.  Also, in most cases this will be a patient’s first experience wearing a compression therapy garment. This entry-level garment must provide a positive patient experience so it is more easily adapted into a lifestyle routine. Introductory arm sleeves are usually a 20-30 mmHg compression level but can be prescribed by doctors and therapists at higher levels (30-40 mmHg).  These garments typically have a soft texture and are highly elastic for application purposes. 

Effective compression therapy is when the correct amount of compression is applied to the arm with consistent patient compliance.  Building upon the beloved mediven comfort line of ultra-soft, sensitive and easy-to-apply lower extremity compression, these same features were applied in an upper extremity solution to deliver successful therapy.

The most comfortable compression arm sleeve in its class: mediven® comfort arm sleeve

If comfort, softness and sensitivity are the preferred features in an arm sleeve, the mediven comfort arm sleeve is an optimal choice in medi’s ready-to-wear, upper extremity compression portfolio.

perfect fit for accurate compression - lymphedema    • Perfect fit for accurate compression and comfort with 8 sizes and two lengths.

opaque, subtle material in 4 colors    • Opaque, subtle material available in four colors.

silicone microdot top band  Sensitive, silicone microdot top band for a no-slip fit.

smooth and seamless wrist  • Smooth, seamless wrist enables greater range of motion.

Antimicrobial fabric  Antimicrobial fabric provides all-day freshness with lasting comfort.

How to select the right compression arm sleeve?

The therapeutic need of the patient is at the forefront of concern when determining the correct compression garment for a condition. A clinician will determine the appropriate compression level, either a 15-20 mmHg, 20-30 mmHg, or 30-40 mmHg for most early-stage treatments.  The style of garment will also be indicated to determine the necessary limb coverage and suspension needs. Lastly, the stiffness or elasticity level will be determined by the current edema level status. The more edema that is present, the stiffer the material will need to be to contain the limb size.

Factors outside of the therapeutic needs will come into play such as patient lifestyle, limb size, and dexterity which all help specify the right product selection.  Patients who use their hands at work may need more of an elastic product with greater flexibility.  Another factor for consideration would be if a care giver is needed to help apply a compression arm sleeve, for example. The medi portfolio of compression solutions is comprised of mediven® elastic garments and circaid® inelastic wraps.  From ready-to-wear to custom options, and from elastic to inelastic varieties, medi has the right compression solution for lymphedema.


Other mediven elastic arm sleeve alternatives:


With both arm and hand products that walk the line between effective containment and wearing comfort, the mediven harmony line of ready-to-wear upper extremity products use a unique fabric that is soft to the touch, easy to apply and now clinically effective. The mediven harmony is clinically proven* to prevent advanced stages of lymphedema with early diagnosis.  Learn more: click here  


* A Randomized Trial Evaluating Bioimpedance Spectroscopy Versus Tape Measurement for the Prevention Of Lymphedema Following Treatment for Breast Cancer: Interim Analysis Journal: Annals of Surgical Oncology Publication Date: May 2019 Authors: Ridner et al.

With both ready-to-wear and custom options (in 13 colors and 3 fabric patterns!) the mediven esprit is a great selection that provides lots of choices for the arm and hand with soft yet micro-massaging support.
Inelastic arm sleeve options:

circaid® juxtafit® essentials: the easy and adjustable upper extremity solution


An alternative to the stretch of elastic garments, the circaid juxtafit essentials is an inelastic garment available in both an arm and hand piece that have limited stretch when the circumference of the limb changes with movement of the body. The resistance of the garment will make compression levels rise and fall and multiple compression levels can be achieved all within this one garment. A perfect solution for those who need independent adjustability.