The First World Lymphedema Day!

BrightLife Direct Supports World Lymphedema Day

We are so excited to share the highlights from the very first annual World Lymphedema Day. March 6 is dedicated to honor lymphedema patients and this year, this great day was made official by the US Government. World Lymphedema Day is meant to promote awareness to this condition and show appreciation to everyone who is affected by lymphedema. More than 150 million people suffer from lymphedema worldwide and it is time that we find a cure.

One of the leaders in lymphedema advocacy, the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN), led the effort to officially dedicate March 6th as World Lymphedema Day. This organization strives to raise awareness and educate people about this condition and has worked side by side with Kathy Bates to get the voices of lymphedema patients heard.

Senators Chuck Schumer and Chuck Grassley introduced a Resolution to the US Senate to recognize March 6th as World Lymphedema Day. Many lymphedema patients shared their stories and talked about how they were celebrating the day, urging others to spread the message.

Many people are aware of the fight against cancer, but few know that many breast cancer survivors develop lymphedema as a result of treatment. Others are born with it. Lymphedema can develop in the arms or legs and symptoms range from mild to severe. With so many people suffering from this condition, it is surprising that so few doctors are aware of it. This results in many patients going un-diagnosed for much of their life, and their symptoms worsening without proper treatment.

March is Lymphedema Awareness Month. We urge you to take some time to learn more about lymphedema, talk about it with your friends and family, and see how you can help make a difference this month. To show our support, we are giving away one Juzo Soft compression garment of your choice! The winner can choose one of the following in any size, color and compression level: knee highs, thigh highs, pantyhose, leggings, gauntlet, glove or armsleeve.

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Relief for Ankle Pain!

If you experience pain or swelling in your ankles, we have some great tips and products to help you feel better, fast. Ankle pain is most often caused from a sprain, osteoarthritis, tendinitis, gout, stress fracture or an injury. Symptoms of ankle pain can include numbness or tingling, swelling, redness, weakness and stiffness.

TREATMENT

Rest:

Try to stay off your feet for a while. The less stress you put on your ankle, the better. With most pain and injury, giving your body a break and a little TLC is all it needs to heal. For more serious injuries or ongoing pain, you may want to look into daily or weekly regimens to help manage and treat your pain.

Ice and Elevation:

At the end of the day or when you have the time, prop your ankle up above heart level with pillows or on the back of the couch. Putting ice on your ankle for about 20-30 minutes a few times a day will help reduce the swelling and pain. For an injury, the swelling should go down in a couple of days and depending on the severity, the pain should subside within a week or two at the most.

Ankle Braces:

If you are experiencing pain, it is important not to push yourself. The more stress you put on your ankle, the longer it will take to heal and you will increase your chances of it becoming a more serious complication. It is important to support your ankle with an ankle brace or wrap to help it heal, prevent injury and get relief.

MalleoTrain Ankle Brace by Bauerfeind

MalleoTrain Ankle Brace by Bauerfeind

To reduce ankle pain and swelling, try out the MalleoTrain ankle brace. It has won several awards for design and functionality.

This knit brace has two cushions on the inner and outer ankle bones that massages the ankle joint as you walk and helps to support and stabilize your ankle.

If you are injured, have osteoarthritis or recently had surgery, this brace will help you get relief. The MalleoTrain ankle brace is available in three different colors and is great for everyday wear.

 

PREVENTION

Make sure you are wearing comfortable and supportive shoes, especially when you are exercising or plan on doing a lot of walking.  If you notice tenderness in your ankle or you have been more active than usual, take a couple of minutes to stretch.
Orthosleeve FS6 Compression Foot SleeveIf you have suffered from an ankle injury in the past, it is extremely important to make sure your ankle is supported. If you are exercising, try wearing a foot sleeve or an ankle brace to protect and prevent injury.

If you’re looking for a foot sleeve to wear everyday or while exercising that isn’t bulky, check out the OrthoSleeve FS6 Compression Foot Sleeve. It can be worn under your normal socks or shoes and is safe to wear overnight. It is made from a lightweight, moisture-wicking fabric and helps to relieve symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, swollen feet, heel spurs and chronic arch or heel pain.

If you have tried numerous remedies to reduce the pain and swelling and have had no luck, make sure you see a doctor immediately, especially if you can’t put much weight on your ankle.

BROWSE ANKLE BRACES AND WRAPS

If you have tips on relieving ankle pain or have questions about prevention or treatment, comment below!

Lymphedema on Ellen + Armsleeve Giveaway!

For our final giveaway in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, you can win a Solidea compression armsleeve of your choice! We hope that promoting awareness about lymphedema will help to educate both patients and doctors. Many people develop this condition after undergoing cancer treatment, and others are born with it. Lymphedema can affect many parts of the body, but most common are swollen arms and legs.

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The Washington Post recently released an article about a newborn twin who was born with lymphedema. The doctor could not figure out what caused the twin’s badly swollen legs. The mother, Heather Ferguson, was simply told to keep an eye on it to see if the symptoms got worse.  “That was the worst moment,” she recalled. “It’s so horrible to know that something’s wrong and to get the brushoff. I felt like we were on our own and that the medical system had just washed its hands of us.”

When a doctor figured out that the baby was suffering from lymphedema (thanks to searching the Internet), Ferguson was told to go back to the pediatric surgeon, not a lymphedema therapist. The surgeon again just advised to keep an eye on it. Without treatment, people with lymphedema are prone to infections and can develop  complications. Going untreated can also make everyday tasks very difficult if not impossible. It is extremely important to educate medical professionals and patients who are at risk about this condition to catch it early on before symptoms get worse.

Many people are unaware that they have lymphedema until it is already moderate to severe due to the lack of awareness and education about the condition. Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from lymphedema, yet many doctors know nothing about it and just brush symptoms off. While there is no cure for lymphedema, compression garments are used to manage and provide relief for symptoms.

BrightLife Direct wants to help promote education and awareness about this condition to better the lives of people suffering lymphedema and to get patients the treatment they need. You may have seen people posting #LymphedemaOnEllen videos on YouTube to help build awareness. We hope to see lymphedema on Ellen soon! You can check out our video above. Comment on our blog to share your favorite #LymphedemaOnEllen videos.

CMYK baseSolidea compression garments and shapewear are designed in Italy with fashion and function in mind. Many Solidea products are uniquely made using 3D Micro Massage technology that helps to stimulate lymphatic system. The 3D wave knit fabric expands and contracts on the skin to moveup to 78% of sluggish lymph back into circulation. The unilateral and bilateral sleeves benefit those who have a hard time wearing a traditional armsleeve because of constricting the upper arm. Graduated compression increases circulation to reduce swelling and fatigue.These products are breathable and are infused with silver ions to reduce the risk of infection as well as bacteria and odor to keep you comfortable and cool. All Soldiea compression armsleeves and gauntlets are made latex free.

To enter, log in with your email address or Facebook information below. Then, choose how you would like to enter: You can answer a question, leave a comment about the blog post, follow us on Twitter or tweet a message. Good luck!! Remember, you can enter once (per entry type) each day. The contest for the Solidea compression armsleeve ends Tuesday, November 3rd at midnight. The winner will be announced the following week.

SHOP SOLIDEA

New Lymphedema Therapist Scholarship Program

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BrightLife Direct is excited to announce a new scholarship program for aspiring Lymphedema Therapists. Our staff wants to help lymphedema patients get the help and medical guidance that they need. With so few practicing lymphedema therapists available in the U.S., we understand this can be quite a challenge. This new scholarship program is designed to help aspiring students to meet their goals of becoming practicing lymphedema therapists and thus helping the customers we work with every day.

BrightLife Direct will provide $500.00 directly to the course tuition for any complete Lymphedema Certification Course that is listed on National Lymphedema Network. The deadline to enter this year’s scholarship is January, 31, 2016. Winners will be announced in February 2016. Scholarships will be awarded based on financial need, personal references and a personal essay.

To apply, you will need a completed application, a resume or curriculum vitae, official high school and/or college transcript as well as one or more letters of recommendation. You can get the details on the application process and eligibility requirements here. For more information, please contact us at 877-545-8585 at scholarship@brightlifedirect.com. 

Click Here To Apply Now

 

Lymphedema Treatment Act Update + Giveaway!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month, BrightLife Direct will be spreading awareness about a condition that many breast cancer survivors face after a mastectomy – lymphedema. This condition refers to mild, moderate or severe swelling (edema), and is often caused by the removal of lymph nodes during cancer treatment. Blockage in the lymphatic system results in the buildup of lymph fluid, which is why swelling occurs.

Lymphedema can develop in the legs, arms and other parts of the body. Some people are born with this condition and others develop it. Approximately 10 million Americans suffer from lymphedema. Breast cancer survivors who develop lymphedema have to wear compression garments over their arms and hand everyday to increase circulation to help manage their condition.

In addition to sharing information on lymphedema this month, we will be doing a weekly giveaway in honor of the many brave Breast Cancer survivors. See below for more information and your chance to win!

Today we want to share information and updates on the Lymphedema Treatment Act.

According to lymphedema specialist, Sue Enerson, many of her patients who are covered by Medicare are only allowed one visit after being diagnosed with lymphedema and more often than not, compression garments are not covered. The financial burden on lymphedema patients is huge. Patients often require frequent visits to doctors and lymphedema therapists to receive treatment and also to learn how to manage lymphedema at home. Patients must also purchase a supply of compression garments to wear continuously, for the rest of their lives, which comes at no small cost.

The Lymphedema Treatment Act is a federal bill that will improve insurance coverage for treatment, mandating that insurance companies provide the medical supplies to patients that are required to manage lymphedema symptoms (including compression garments, bandages, etc.). This in turn will reduce the total healthcare costs associated with lymphedema by reducing the number of complications and disabilities that result from poor treatment of lymphedema symptoms. Currently, most insurance policies including Medicare do not cover lymphedema treatment.

Seniors who suffer from lymphedema should not be punished for taking the necessary steps to treat their condition,” said Reichert. “By rectifying Medicare’s failure to cover compression garments we give seniors their best chance and real hope to fight back against this chronic disease. I am pleased to be joined by my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in this fight against lymphedema. – Congressman Reichert

On March 26, 2015, the Lymphedema Treatment Act was introduced to the current Congress, including a “Findings” section to explain the need for medical coverage. Treatment for lymphedema includes manual lymphatic drainage, wearing compression garments and Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), which the bill will make the standard of care for lymphedema.

The Lymphedema Treatment Act currently has over 100 cosponsors. BrightLife Direct as well as many other compression garment companies are showing their support for the Lymphedema Treatment Act. Compression garment makers Sigvaris, Jobst, Medi, Juzo, Solaris and LympheDIVAS also support the bill.

How can you help? Contact your members of Congress to make sure they support the bill. Learn more here: http://lymphedematreatmentact.org/

Win A Prize Every Week!

juzo-soft-bc-giveaway

While there is no cure for lymphedema yet, compression garments help to provide relief. Every Friday during the month of October, we will be hosting a giveaway to win the featured armsleeve of the week. To kick of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this week we are offering a Juzo Soft Compression Armsleeve. Juzo Soft is available in six different colors as well as a variety of new colors for fall and winter. Juzo Soft Armsleeves are available in three compression levels and in a variety of sizing options. Winners can choose the color, compression level and size.  Don’t forget to keep checking our blog for your chance to win!

You can enter below by logging in with an email address or through Facebook and following BrightLife Direct on Twitter, answering a question, commenting on the blog post or by tweeting a message in the giveaway box below. To tweet the message, click the “Tweet” button, then go to your profile. Next, click on the timestamp on the tweet and paste the url in the box below. Click here for more help.

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RESOURCES

Breast Cancer Navigator

Shop Lymphedema Products

Managing Lymphedema

Kathy Bates – Life With Lymphedema

March is Lymphedema Awareness Month

Sigvaris Supports the Lymphedema Treatment Act

Congressman Reichert’s Involvement in Reintroducing the Bill

Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2015

Dysautonomia and POTS – Invisible Illness Awareness Week

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Dysautonomia refers to a number of conditions that describe the breakdown or failure of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS regulates unconscious or involuntary body functions, including the cardiovascular system, metabolic system and more. To diagnose Dysautonomia, a tilt-table test is used to evaluate how the patient regulates blood pressure regarding stressful events.

Some of the most common Dysautonomia symptoms include blood pressure changes, fast heart rates, anxiety, dizziness, lightheadedness, stomach pain, mood swings, migraines and insomnia. For some people with Dysautonomia, getting out of bed can even be a struggle. For others, travel may be limited or nonexistent. These symptoms can be mild or severe and may even seem “invisible” to someone who doesn’t know what to look for. Patients with Dysautonomia may have symptoms that come and go, some caused or enhanced by stress.

Over a million Americans suffer from a primary autonomic system disorder. One of the most common conditions is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). Others include Neurocardiogenic Syncope (NCS), Orthostatic Intolerance (OI), Vasovagal Syncope, Neurally Mediated Hypotension (NMH), Multiple Systems Atrophy (MSA), Post-Viral Dysautonomia, Pure Autonomic Failure (PAF), Familial Dysautonomia (FD), Non-Familial Dysautonomia and Generalized Dysautonomia.

With so many people affected by this condition, you would think that there would be tons of information on it. However, there is not. After researching POTS and Dysautonomia resources, some of the most helpful information was found on personal blogs. The biggest thing to take away here is that your voice matters. With limited information and scientific research, personal experiences and advice are sometimes the best things to rely on. That is why Invisible Illness Awareness Week is so important. It builds and strengthens a community of people who are fighting to be heard.

As of now, there is no cure for Dysautonomia. To relieve symptoms, many patients turn to physical therapy, drinking lots of fluids, increasing sodium intake as well as limiting the amount of caffeine and sugary drinks that consumed. You can check with your doctor about getting medication to relieve more severe symptoms and determine what the best option would be for you. There is also a new treatment called TVAM, or Transvascular Autonomic Modulation, to improve the autonomic function in patients.

Wearing compression socks can also help alleviate symptoms to improve circulation in the body which helps to decrease lightheadedness, dizziness and normalize the heart rate and blood pressure. Compression socks also help to reduce the amount of pooling blood, swelling and fatigue and to prevent blood clots and varicose veins. Compression socks are also recommended for exercise and traveling, especially if you’re flying. If you have Dysautonomia and have a hard time traveling, wearing compression socks could be your secret weapon to getting back on the road or in the gym. Compression garments are available in knee high, thigh high and waist high options in a variety of compression levels, colors and sizes.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. There are tons of people who are suffering from an invisible illness too. With the help of bloggers, support groups and organizations, together we can bring awareness to these conditions. Share your story and join the #invisiblefight today.

Invisible Illness Awareness Week is extremely important to share the unheard voices of so many people who are suffering. Many people struggle with undiagnosed or rare conditions that many medical practitioners are unaware of. The good news is, you can help make a difference. Starting September 28 – October 4th, share your stories or those of loved ones to promote awareness about rare conditions. You can also spread the word by participating on social media by including #InvisibleIllness in your posts. What do you fight for?

Additional Resources:

Invisible Illness Awareness Week

October is Dysautonomia Awareness Month

Lauren Stiles – Dysautonomia 101

Best POTS and Dysautonomia Blogs

Compression Socks

Dysautonomia Symptoms

Lifestyle Adaptions for POTS

The Healing Power of Silver

Many of you already know Oslo the Schnauzer, our company Mascot and unofficial “Director of Security”.  I took Oslo to the dog park last Sunday.  Oslo was romping and rolling with her best girlfriends, Eloise and Ramona.  Their “play” is always friendly but they do sometimes get overly exuberant.  As the dogs were running circles around me I received an accidental but nasty scratch on my calf from one of their paws.

dogs-for-blogWhen I got home I cleaned and disinfected the scratch and didn’t really think about it again until Monday morning.  Both my socks and jeans rubbed on my calf, and although it wasn’t painful, it was very irritating.  Earlier that morning I had read an article in the Washington Post about how hospitals are starting to install copper handles, switches, and fixtures to fight the spread of viruses and bacteria.  Both copper and silver have been used for centuries to clean wounds and fight infections.  What luck that BrightLife sells a soft tubular bandage with X-Static silver threads.  We sell it to patients and medical facilities for use in the treatment of lymphedema, dermatological infections, and wounds.  Unlike other bandages, this slightly elastic tubular bandage slips on arms and legs without adhesive.  There is no screaming and crying like the kind that occurs when you yank an off adhesive bandage.  I cut a piece off a 3” roll, slipped it on my leg, and the irritation was gone instantly.

petes-leg-for-blogIt’s Tuesday morning and I’m still wearing the Silverseal X-Static Tubular Bandage on my leg.  There’s no pain or irritation, and the scratch is healing nicely.  Both my leg and I should be ready to take Oslo to the dog park this coming weekend.

Common Measuring Mistakes To Avoid

 

  1. Do not measure late in the day

Everyday our legs and feet swell. This is normal. For this reason, it is important to measure for compression stockings early in the morning to get the most accurate fit. If you measure later in the day or at night, you may purchase a size that is too big and will not get the maximum benefits of compression. The same applies for armsleeves as lymphedema swelling can increase during the day – measure in the morning!

  1. Do not estimate – be precise!

Compression socks and sleeves are not a one-size-fits-all product. In fact, a size medium in one brand could be a large in another. Sizes can even vary within brands as well. This is why it is important to check the measurements. You may think you need to “fit” into this sock, but in reality there’s another one that matches your measurements better. If you find yourself between sizes, try another brand or style. You can also try our Size Machine to determine the what size garment you need. If you have any questions about measuring or sizing, you can call our customer service team Monday through Friday from 9-6PM for help. Try to measure in centimeters as much as possible for more precise measurements. This may help you if you are struggling to see where your measurements fall on the size chart.

  1. Do not try to take your measurements yourself

Lets face it. We’ve all tried to carry in too many groceries at one time and ended up dropping everything. Sometimes, an extra set of hands makes all the difference. When measuring for compression socks or armsleeves, it’s important to have measurements that are as accurate as possible. This is extremely hard to do by yourself. Getting the placement right and bending at odd angles to try and measure your leg or arm doesn’t exactly scream “fun.” If you can, try and get someone to help take your measurements. That way you can be sure that you’re getting the right size without dealing with the hassle of returning socks that don’t fit. Our knowledgeable staff is available for fitting appointments if you would like help determining your size. All you have to do is ask!

  1. Do not guess where the measurements should be taken

Medical compression sock sizing is based on the leg circumference. Knee high socks require ankle and calf measurements. Always measure the smallest part of your ankle. You do not want to measure over your anklebone. You do want to measure around the largest part of your calf. It is also important to measure from the floor to the bend behind your knee. For thigh highs and pantyhose (waist high), you will also need to measure around your upper thigh, about 3” below the crease of the buttocks. Some pantyhose may also require the length, your height and weight, or hip measurements. If you are measuring for an armsleeve, you need to get three measurements: around your wrist, right below your elbow and around your upper arm (just below your arm pit). Some brands like Mediven or Juzo will have you measure the length of your arm as well. When you are measuring, make sure that your arm is bent slightly. You will want to measure the outside length from your wrist to the upper arm measurement. For gloves and gauntlets, simply measure around your wrist, avoiding the wrist bone, and the palm of your hand above your thumb.

  1. Do Not Choose To Wear The Wrong Size

Wearing the wrong size can result in more compression being applied than is desired. You shouldn’t wear something that you need to fold down at the top to fit your leg, or something that feels like it’s cutting off your circulation. This can be harmful and complicate existing conditions. Check for special sizing if you have a hard time finding something that’s comfortable. There are petite sizes, plus sizes, socks for wide calves and stockings made for longer legs. There are even compression stockings to wear during pregnancy, socks for diabetes and garments designed for men and women with sensitive skin. If you are really struggling to find a comfortable compression garment, don’t forget that customs are an option! Remember, sizing between brands is not universal. If you find that your measurements aren’t matching any of the size charts, try a different brand. Some collections run longer, some run shorter and others are smaller or larger. You can always give us a call at 877-545-8585 if you can’t find what you’re looking for or have sizing questions.

Best POTS and Dysautonomia Blogs

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I don’t have all the answers to compression product questions! But, I’ve found an amazing resource in the medical blogging community – brave men and women who are blogging about their medical conditions openly and honestly. I can’t say enough about how helpful it is to us, to not only understand the day to day challenges of living with a chronic medical condition, but also to be able to read someone’s personal account of using compression to treat medical symptoms.

I recently had a customer reach out about compression stockings for POTS/Dysautonomia. Dysautonomia is a disease that affects the autonomic nervous system, often manifested by a low blood pressure and/or a high heart rate upon standing (also, called Orthostatic Hypotension and/or POTS, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). While I know that compression stockings are recommended by doctors to help manage some of the symptoms of POTS, I wasn’t quite sure which style or brand was best to recommend. So, I turned to the great community of bloggers who are managing POTS themselves and talking about compression products.

Since I found such helpful information there – I wanted to share it with everyone else! If you’ve recently been diagnosed with Dysautonomia, POTS or EDS, definitely check out the great blogs below to learn more.

With a Side of Salt is written by an amazing young woman in Arizona. Crista was diagnosed with POTS while she was in college and is now a patient at Mayo Clinic. Her writing is informative and strong (and sarcastic which I like!). She’s a great resource! Her advice on compression socks is here.

Living with Bob is a prolific blog filled with SO MUCH information. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface, but I definitely recommend. RustyHoe is very funny and very honest about her day to day struggles and triumphs. She also has lots of information on compression here.

Lethargic Smile is written by Jackie, who has Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Sjogren’s Syndrome, and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). She is so positive and uplifting – it’s hard not to sit down and read 20 of her posts at once.

Defying Gravity is written by a young woman with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). She also has several posts on compression stockings.

Life with POTS is written by a young Canadian with POTS.  Her advice on compression socks is here.

This is in no way a definitive list. Do you have any more blogs we should add? Let us know in the comments!

Healing and Preventing Leg Ulcers

Every year in the US, 2.5 million individuals develop leg ulcers, the majority of these are due to severe venous insufficiency, or poor circulation.   Healing a leg ulcer is a long, slow process that requires compliance and perseverance.  Swelling in the leg needs to be reduced, and blood flow to the affected area needs to be reestablished.  This is typically accomplished with a combination of compression bandages and compression stockings.  Once healed, it’s imperative that compression be used on a regular basis to prevent the ulcer from reoccurring.

Mediven recently introduced a new double sock combination for the treatment and prevention of venous ulcers.   Consisting of a low compression closed toe stocking liner, with a higher compression outer stocking, the Dual Sock System is available in 30-40 mmHg and 40-50mmHg.  Layering socks makes wearing a higher compressions much more comfortable, and comfort along with ease of donning increases compliance.

Mediven Dual Layer Sock

Wearing two socks together has a number of advantages.  The inner liner sock has a light compression, which makes it much easier to put on.  It can be donned without disturbing a wound or wound dressing.  Treated with ClimaFresh Odor Protection, the inner sock also helps inhibit bacterial growth.  The liner can be worn alone at night, if prescribed by your doctor, although care needs to be taken that it doesn’t roll-down.  Studies have shown that wearing two socks in combination, offers better containment than a single stocking.  And finally, the inner sock makes it MUCH easier to put on the higher compression outer sock.

Mediven’s Dual Layer Sock System is sold in pairs, 2-liners and 2-outer stockings, along with a foot slippie to make donning even easier.  Both compression levels are Medicare approved, if you have an active venous ulcer on your leg.