Ask the Expert
Lymphedema: Are Open Wounds a Contraindication for Compression Bandaging?
Kirsten I. Wightman, PT, DPT, CLT and Amy H. Pannullo, PT, DPT, WCS, CLT respond:
If someone has open wounds without a great amount of depth, we can use bandages or dressings to absorb some of the drainage, and then, we can use compression bandaging over those areas. The compression will actually push the fluid out of the area which will help the healing. The only concern is that if these compression bandages get wet or soiled, they will lose their effectiveness, and we cannot use them again.
Many times we see patients who are also being seen at a wound clinic. In those cases, we use dressings as best we can to absorb the moisture and help with the healing. Sometimes these patients will do really well with Manual Lymphatic Drainage either in clinic or with us. We teach caretakers the technique as well to heal their wounds much more quickly. Then, we are able to move forward with compression bandaging.
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For more information on this topic, view the recorded live webinar Clinical Recognition of Lymphedema for the Non-Specialized Physical Therapist.