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

bld-pots

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

Workout Essentials – TheraSport, Solidea and Dr. Comfort

As the weather starts to cool off, check out your ultimate workout guide to get you through the Fall without skipping workouts.

BLD Workout Essentials
Workout Essentials featuring:

First things first, make yourself a killer gym playlist filled with all of your favorite songs. Nothing gets you motivated like music! Get yourself a pair of comfortable headphones. The B&O Play headphones pictured feature a detachable cord, microphone and great sound quality. If you and your workout buddy both have these headphones, you can use the daisy chain functionality to link your headphones so you’re both listening to the same thing.

Another great piece of technology to help meet your fitness goals is the Everlast Sport Watch. This high-tech bracelet keeps track of calories burned, steps taken and how many miles you walk or run each day. The Everlast Sport Watch is a great way to see how much progress you have made. It even tells you the time so you can stay on track.

When you get to the gym, make sure to stretch. Using a foam roller is ideal to target specific muscles to work out kinks. It also works well for physical therapy, yoga balance and strength training. During your workout, it is extremely important to stay hydrated. The Camelbak water bottle featured in this guide has a loop to clip it to your bag or carry with your finger so you don’t misplace it at the gym. This durable bottle is spill-proof so you never have to worry about it leaking. The Camelbak water bottle is made BPA free and is available in a large variety of colors.

Now for the most important workout essentials: compression socks. The new TheraSport Athletic Performance Sock provides 20-30mmHg graduated compression to improve circulation to energize your legs. Once you put these on, you’ll finish your workout strong. These socks will have you feeling better than ever, even after pushing yourself through a grueling workout. Check out this TheraSport product review on the and see for yourself! These socks are made with tons of cushioning to support your feet and reduce impact. TheraSport socks are anti-microbial to prevent odor and are made with moisture-wicking fibers to keep your feet cool and dry. After your workout, slip on TheraSport Athletic Recovery Socks to reduce fatigue and heal faster than ever.

The only thing that’s worse than sore legs is sore feet. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes that don’t rub or irritate your feet. Nothing’s harder than trying to run with a blister! Our recommendation is the Dr. Comfort Women’s Athletic Refresh Shoe. These lightweight shoes are great for people with sensitive feet. These shoes support side-to-side movement unlike regular running shoes, making them ideal for kickboxing, Zumba, weight training and stretching. Choose from a variety of colors and two different lace options. They even come with a gel shoe insert for maximum comfort.

Say goodbye to cellulite! Last but not least, the Solidea Strong Advanced Micro Massage Compression Bike Short is made with a breathable fabric that reduces bacteria and odor to keep your skin clean, dry and healthy. This bike short smooths the silhouette helping to shape mid-thighs and to reduce scar formation, fibrosis and the ever so dreaded cellulite. It also helps to sooth symptoms of lymphedema, edema and swelling by using 3D wave knit fabric to stimulate the lymphatic system. As you move, the fabric expands and contracts creating a massage affect.

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Introducing…OrthoSleeve!

If you suffer from Plantar Fasciitis, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Arthritis Pain, Patellar or Achilles Tendonitis, you’re going to love OrthoSleeve. These products aid in recovery, relieve pain, reduce swelling, provide support and improve circulation using Compression Zone Technology and medical-grade orthopedic support. Made from a lightweight fabric that is easy to take on and off, OrthoSleeve will have you feeling comfortable in no time. The OrthoSleeve line consists of products that help you recover after surgery or a sports injury.

FS6-ZoneGraphic

To better understand Compression Zone Technology, check out the diagram above of the FS6 Compression Foot Sleeve. Both the Foot and Calf Sleeve incorporate six zones that vary in the level of compression to most effectively provide muscle support and improve circulation. The first zone uses light compression to prevent pinching or binding for maximum comfort. The second zone provides support and helps to increase circulation to speed up recovery by removing lactic acid. The third zone gently stretches the plantar fascia with firm pressure. The fourth zone features a shaped-to-fit design, provides moderate compression and prevents pinching as you move your foot. The fifth zone also provides firm compression to support the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia while further enhancing circulation. The final zone features light compression to keep you comfortable with a wide-knit band that’s non-binding and won’t pinch you.

Black FS6The FS6 Compression Foot Sleeve is one of the most popular sports braces available. It provides graduated compression and support for the arch, foot and ankle using Compression Zone Technology. This foot sleeve helps to relieve pain and swelling as well as improve circulation to help you recover faster. This product is ideal if you have Plantar Fasciitis, chronic arch or heel pain, Achilles Tendonitis, swelling or heel spurs. The medical-grade compression also helps to prevent plantar fasciitis flare-ups. You can wear the FS6 Compression Foot Sleeve overnight or during the day under your normal socks and shoes. It is made with a lightweight, breathable moisture-wicking fabric that will keep you comfortable and dry. Designed for men and women in Natural, Black and White in sizes Small to XX-Large.

orthosleeve-CS6-natural-largeThe OrthoSleeve CS6 Compression Calf Sleeve also provides medical-grade compression using the unique Compression Zone Technology to provide relief for those with venous insufficiency, shin splints, Achilles Tendonitis, sore calf muscles, cramping or Restless Leg Syndrome. This Calf Sleeve improves circulation, aids recovery and provides relief for tired, achy legs. The CS6 Compression Calf Sleeve is safe to wear at night and is designed for men and women. It is available in sizes Small to Large in Natural, Black and White.

orthosleeve-foot-gym-1-largeIf you have Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis or other foot pain, The Foot Gym can help you strengthen your foot, ankle and calf as well as aid in a speedy recovery after an injury or surgery. This clever device incorporates seven exercises including toe curls, toe extensions, calf raises/calf stretch, dorsiflexion, plantar fascia stretch as well as a “ice or heat” removable massage roller to massage, strengthen and stretch your muscles. The Foot Gym comes with a non-slip antimicrobial foot pad, three resistance bands (light, moderate and firm), and has a storage area underneath the device. Chiropractors, Trainers, Orthopedic Surgeons, Physical Therapists, Podiatrists, Professional Sports Teams and Olympic Athletes have all reviewed and tested The Foot Gym. To see it in action, click here.

More OrthoSleeve products are coming soon! Check our blog for the latest updates.

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Varicose Veins and Pregnancy

The burdens of pregnancy are many for the expectant mother.  In addition to all the normal demands of daily living, which often includes a full-time job on top of taking care of a home and family, there is a special need to eat a healthy, balanced diet, to get proper exercise and for plenty of rest. But even for the expecting mom who is doing an excellent job of keeping all the balls of daily life in the air while also giving herself the tender loving care she deserves, there are still times when her legs are going to feeling tired and achy.

The circulatory system in our bodies has two kinds of blood vessels: arteries and veins. Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Arteries have thick walls which actually help the heart to pump the blood by gently contracting with each heartbeat.

Veins are the thin-walled blood vessels which return blood back to the heart. The veins have valves that open when the blood flows past them, then close after each heartbeat to stop the blood from flowing backwards in the vein. These valves are especially important in the legs. When weak or damaged valves allow blood to flow backward, it collects at the bottom of the leg. This excess blood increases pressure in the vein and causes that tired aching feeling in your legs. That increased pressure, over time, can eventually stretch and enlarge your veins. These stretched and twisted veins are what we call varicose veins. The smaller veins close to the skin’s surface may be bluish, appearing knotted or like a spider-web.

While anyone at any age can develop varicose veins, the changes that a woman’s body undergoes during pregnancy increase the chances that varicose veins may occur. Some health experts have estimated that about 40% of women will be affected by varicose veins during pregnancy. One reason is that pregnancy causes hormonal changes in a woman’s body, one of which results in the vein walls relaxing slightly and stretching out. While this can help in increasing blood flow, important for the developing baby, it can also increase the likelihood that varicose veins may form. That likelihood is also increased by the additional weight a woman adds during pregnancy, weight that puts greater pressure on the veins of the expecting mom’s legs.

Other factors that can increase the risk of developing varicose veins include activities that require you to spend long periods of time standing or sitting. Such inactivity makes it easier for blood and other fluids to pool in your legs, again increasing the pressure on the veins and causing additional stretching of veins and possible damage to the valves within the veins.

Some women, of course, may already have varicose veins prior to pregnancy. There are numerous things that can lead to the development of varicose veins unrelated to pregnancy. Excessive weight, heavy use of alcohol and lack of exercise can all help contribute to the problem, as can smoking. Becoming pregnant will usually aggravate and worsen the condition when varicose veins already exist.

In some cases, however, there is simply an inherited tendency to have weaker vein walls and valve problems. Often, if a woman’s mother developed varicose veins during pregnancy, there is a good chance that her daughter will as well.

The good news for many women is that the varicose veins that develop during pregnancy return to normal after the baby is born. As the conditions that led to the varicose veins disappear after giving birth, so too, in most cases, will the varicose veins themselves. There is a greater chance, however, of the problem disappearing if there are steps taken during pregnancy, as outlined below, to minimize both the occurrence and severity of varicose veins.

For a woman who has an inherited tendency for thin-walled veins or weak valves within the veins of the legs, there is of course a much higher chance that the varicose veins that have developed will not go away once the pregnancy is over. In any case, it is always worth the effort of taking steps to try and minimize the seriousness and permanence of varicose veins that occur during pregnancy.

One of the easiest actions to take to help reduce the risk of developing varicose veins during pregnancy is to wear high-quality compression stockings. Maternity pantyhose like Jobst UltraSheer or Mediven Comfort provide gradient compression, providing the highest level of pressure at the ankle and gradually decreasing the pressure up the leg. This design gently compresses the leg muscles, squeezing the veins, and helping to push the blood back toward the heart.

Regular, sensible exercise is another means of minimizing varicose vein risk. Simply walking regularly helps to strengthen the leg muscles, providing more support for the veins in the legs and helping, through the compression of the muscles as your walk, to move the blood out of the leg and back toward the lungs and heart. Your doctor can offer advice on exercise that is appropriate and healthful during pregnancy.

It is also good advice to avoid long periods of standing or sitting. The lack of activity allows blood to pool in the veins of the leg, increasing the pressure on both the veins and the valves within the veins and thus increasing the risk of varicose veins forming. If you will be facing a prolonged period of standing or sitting, break it up with regular periods of exercise, either taking a short walk or, at the very minimum, doing some foot exercises, such as flexing your toes, rotating your feet at the ankles and doing toe lifts with your heels on the floor. All of these will help keep the blood circulating better in your feet and legs.

While varicose veins generally have few if any immediate health implications, they are something most women wish to avoid during pregnancy. Compression stockings, regular exercise, and keeping active can help minimize the risk. Talk to your physician about the problem and see what he or she has to recommend.

Pete@BrightLife Direct
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