Self-Measuring for Lymphedema

This is an important skill in your maintenance phase of Lymphedema management.

Self-measuring will enable you to assess the response to your home program and track for status changes. During the acquisition of a new skill it is helpful to practice daily for one week, thereafter it is necessary only as a weekly/monthly/as needed basis.

You will need:

Soft ¼ wide recoiling measuring tape
Flow chart to record measurements
It is important to compare measurements to:

Same points and placement of tape around the points
Same time of day
Same tension and
Same position of the arm/leg.
Same position of tape across point of measurement
Measurement points:

You may either use specific "beauty marks" at strategic locations (hand, wrist, forearm, upper arm) or you may use a yard stick or temporarily tape the measuring tape to your finger tip (be consistent with location) and mark specific areas (i.e. 10, 20, 30 cm from finger tip). Remember the position of your arm/leg and the surface it is on to duplicate for the future markings and comparisons. For example: your arm may be on the counter or table and the elbow may be straight or bent OR your leg may be on the floor with foot against the wall or on the bed.

Measurement technique:

Same Position: Now that you marked your measurement points, it is important to remember maintaining the same position for measuring. This does not have to be the same position for marking but it does need to be consistent each time.
Same Tension: Place the tape measure so that your measuring point is between the overlap of the measuring tape. If the tape reel is placed to dangle over the extremity slightly you can maintain same tension.
*Information provided by St. Mary's Regional Medical Center Physical Therapy.

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