Help!!! Need advice

Hi, I have lymphedema in my right arm because of breast cancer and the removal of all my lymph nodes. I have a compression sleeve that I wear when it swells. I also have a compression pump that I use. Yesterday I woke up with my arm swollen (worse than it has ever been) it aches, is red and hot to the touch. I went to walk-in yesterday, they ran a blood test to check for blood clots, which came back negative and prescribed me an antibiotic. Has anyone else experienced this? does anyone know what causes this or what could it be? any help would be great, as today it is swollen more than yesterday.

Thank you in advance

11 Replies

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  • That sounds like cellulitis - which is why you have been prescribed antibiotics.

    Rest, simple pain relief (paracetamol) and fluids for the next couple of days. Are you in the US?

  • Yes I am in the US. Thank you, the doctor mentioned that but was more concerned with possible blood clot...I am going to have to do some research on this as this is new to me.

  • Check out the NLN - National Lymphedema Network (www.lymphnet.org) for advice your side of The Pond!

    Do you wear compression all day, or only when you feel the arm is swollen? Really it is better to wear it during waking hours - where lymph nodes have been removed, and the limb has developed lymphoedema, the sleeve is doing the job of the skin - helping to remove lymph fluid from the arm. Have a chat with a Lymphoedema therapist about the value of compression.

    Now you have had the dubious experience of cellulitis, it may happen again at some time. Antibiotic regimes should be at least 14 days.

    Cellulitis often occurs as a result of a break in the skin (which allows ingress of staph aureus). It could have developed following an insect bite - a bruise after a knock or fall - shaving or hair removal (please, don't shave from now nor use an epilator or hot wax - embrace hirsuitness!!!!) It can also develop spontaneously - if you have been feeling a bit bleuch. Cellulitis often starts with the feeling of an imminent head cold, and most people do have a mild fever.

    There is a medical publication in the U.K. known as the Consensus for Management of Cellulitis. - you can download it from lymphoedema.org - there is probably a US version available via NIH or PubMed.

  • Hi thank you for getting back with me. Yes I only wear my sleeve when swollen, it is so hot and uncomfortable to wear everyday. But it looks like I am going to have to start doing it, because this cellulits is terrible. And I don't have to shave my armpit because I have no hair growth there as result of my surgery...so that aspect is good. I will look up the NLN today. Thanks again

  • Don't bother with the sleeve while you have an acute infection - rest and take the antibiotics - but do bear in mind that 5 or 7 days of antibiotics is not enough.

  • Certainly sounds like it could be cellulitis. It's not unusual for doctors to do checks to rule out blood clots, I've had that done twice when I've had cellulitis. Antibiotics and rest should fix it. Try and keep your arm elevated and rested while it remains swollen (more swollen then normal).

  • I will, thanks for getting back with me.

  • I have lymphoedema in my right arm also. I have worn compression sleeves since 2012, I have not heard of a pump ! What is is ? I have had cellulitis in my arm twice and had to have iv antibiotics as my clinic say you have to catch it quick. Have you got a high temperature ? It can be due to several things !

  • Thanks for getting back with me, and yes the night before I woke up to cellulitis I had a high fever and chills, I thought I was getting a kidney infection cause that's what I usually get. I have a compression pump that is a sleeve and vest that I wear for an hour a day that is connected to a machine. Besides Lymphedema I have radiation fibrosis so the pump keeps the fluid moving and the fibrosis broken up. I hope neither of us gets this again, because this is not fun

  • Yes it seems very much like cellulitis. You need two weeks of antibiotics. Rest the arm and I hope you feel better soon.

  • Thank you for replying to me, I appreciate it.

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