The frequency of lymphedema in an adult Spina Bifida population

The Fight Against Pressure Ulcers


Lymphoedema is a swelling often of your legs which is due to fluid collecting in the tissues under the skin. This can leave you prone to cellulitis and skin breakdown, and can interfere with independence as your legs get heavy and difficult to move. Ask your GP to arrange treatment with pressure stockings or appliances, which are very effective.

The National Lymphedema Network ( defines lymphedema as “an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the interstitial tissue that causes swelling, most often in the arms and/or legs, and occasionally in other parts of the body. Lymphedema can develop when lymphatic vessels are missing or impaired or when lymph vessels are damaged or lymph nodes removed.

It is suggested that you see a podiatrist/chiropodist regularly to have your toenails cut and hard skin removed if you have loss of feeling or poor circulation in your feet. Use a foot-softening cream on your feet and moisturiser on your legs to prevent cracking as bacteria can enter this way. If your skin is very dry, use aqueous cream instead of soap when bathing. Dry carefully between your toes and treat athlete’s foot straight away. Creams and sprays are available from pharmacies and larger supermarkets.

There have been very few studies to date documenting the occurrence of lymphedema in the Spina Bifida population, despite a case series in 2001 that suggested that the occurrence may be higher than in the general population. A total of 240 electronic medical records from the Adult Spina Bifida Clinic from January 2005 to August 2008 were retrospectively reviewed.

This is why incontinence/ moisture management, movement, and sensation are important for Spina Bifida patients.

10 Methods to tackle swollen feet

  1. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day
    Though it might seem counterintuitive, getting enough fluids actually helps reduce swelling. When your body isn’t hydrated enough, it holds onto the fluid it does have. This contributes to swelling.
  2. Buy compression socks
    Compression socks can be found at a drug or grocery store or even bought online. Start with compression socks that are between 12 to 15 mm or 15 to 20 mm of mercury.

They come in a variety of weights and compressions, so it might be best to start off with lighter-weight socks and then find the kind that provides the most relief.

  1. Soak in a cool Epsom salt bath for about 15 to 20 minutes
    Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) may not only help with muscle pain. It may also reduce swelling and inflammation. The theory is that Epsom salt draws out toxins and increases relaxation.

Just make sure to get Epsom salts marked with the USP designation. This means that it meets standards set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is safe to use.

  1. Elevate your feet, preferably above your heart
    Prop your feet on cushions, pillows, or even things like phone books, when you sleep. If you’re looking to reduce foot swelling while pregnant, try elevating your feet several times a day as well. Aim for about 20 minutes at a time, even on an ottoman or a chair.

Try to avoid standing for long periods of time and stay off your feet when you can.

  1. Get moving!
    If you sit or stand in one area for a long period of time (like at work), this can lead to swollen feet. Try to move a little bit each hour, even if it’s a walk to the break room, a walk around the block at lunch, flexing your knees and ankles, or a lap around the office.
  2. Magnesium supplements can be helpful for some people
    If you retain water, you might have a magnesium deficiency. Eating foods high in magnesium can help. Magnesium-rich foods. Trusted Source to add to your diet include:
  • almonds
  • tofu
  • cashews
  • spinach
  • dark chocolate
  • broccoli
  • avocados
  • Taking 200 to 400 milligrams of magnesium daily might help with the swelling. But before you take any kind of supplement, ask your doctor. Magnesium supplements aren’t right for everyone, especially if you have a kidney or heart condition.
  1. Make some dietary changes
    Reducing your sodium intake can help decrease swelling in your body, including in your feet. Opt for low-sodium versions of your favourite foods, and try to refrain from adding salt to meals.
  2. Lose weight if you’re overweight
    Being overweight can cause reduced blood circulation, leading to swelling of the lower extremities. It can also lead to extra strain on the feet, causing pain when walking. This can result in being more sedentary — which can also cause fluid buildup in the feet.

Losing weight can help ease the strain on your feet and possibly reduce foot swelling as well. Talk with your doctor about whether you need to lose weight and healthy ways to go about doing so.

  1. Massage your feet
    Massage can be great for swollen feet and can also promote relaxation. Massage (or have someone massage them for you!) your feet toward your heart with firm strokes and some pressure. This can help move the fluid out of the area and reduce swelling.
  2. Increase your intake of potassium-rich foods
    A potassium deficiency can contribute to high blood pressure and water retention. If you have no dietary restrictions, consider eating foods containing potassium. Some potassium-rich foods. Trusted Source include:
  • sweet potatoes
  • white beans
  • bananas
  • salmon
  • pistachios
  • chicken
  • Try drinking orange juice or low-fat milk instead of soda, too. If you have any medical conditions, especially kidney issues, talk with your doctor before adding lots of potassium to your diet.

How long should I elevate my feet to reduce swelling?

The more the swelling and the longer there has been swelling, the longer and more frequently your need to elevate your legs. Start with 20 minutes twice a day. This might do the trick. If not, go to 30 minutes or even an hour.


About Daniella-Jade Lowe

Hello, My name is Daniella Jade Lowe. I am a PURSUN researcher and I am working on marketing myself as an Accessibility Consultant. Journalism and Politics are my passion. I have a BA degree in History and Politics. What type of disability do you have? At birth, I was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus which are neurological conditions. As a result, I use a wheelchair for mobility. What is disability to you? The only disability is a bad attitude. I have a disability. It doesn’t completely define me; it just enhances me in a way which differentiates and strengthens me. My disability should be viewed as an ability: to see the world in a different way. I don’t really like the term because sometimes it indirectly implies someone is dysfunctional or helpless. The most important thing is to never make assumptions. Someone with a disability can be very, physically, fit and strong, highly intelligent and articulate. What has been your experience from the time you remember till now? - positive and negative experiences. My life as a wheelchair user has been generally okay. Wheelchair Accessibility is frustrating. I was teased a little in school. Other than that, life is great. How do you cope with: -daily activities - your disability, do you have times when you are down - people's reactions towards you. I have carers, a Social worker, District Nurses, a GP, and extended family in this country. I am also in contact with a local disability charity in Yorkshire. I also have a friendly landlord. How do you keep yourself motivated? I must stay organised and practice good time management. I also prioritise my plans. What is your word or advice - to those with disabilities? - to the society Don’t let people put you in a box. You have a voice, use it. 10. Tell us about your platforms if you have any- Blog: The View from Where I Sit Facebook: Daniella Jade Lowe Instagram: @daniellajadelowe/@theviewfromwheresitblog Thank you!