WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Medical procedures that should NEVER be done on the affected arm.
No Blood Tests, Blood Pressure, IV or Injections into this Arm!
My personal reminder to this list
NO CRUTCHES, NO PURSES, NO GROCERY BAGS on the affected arm/shoulder.
Perhaps the foremost rationale for NOT allowing the use of needles in an arm with lymphedema is the threat of infection. Every break of the skin creates potential entry foci for bacteria. Because of the immunodeficient state of the arm any infection can and often does escalate quickly into cellulitis. These infections cause further damage to the lymphatic's, thereby increasing the severity of the lymphedema.
Lymphorrhea (which is the fluid in the arm) is a protein-rich substance that provides excellent nutrition to any bacteria that might gain a foot hold in the arm. Once an infection has begun the excess fluid and any fibrosis of the arm tissue makes it tremendously more difficult to eradicate the bacteria.
No Injection of Medicines
The dosage strength of any medicine injected into the arm will be diminished for two reasons. First, because of the fluid accumulation in the arm it is going to be immediately diluted. Following that, because of the impaired fluid outflow of the arm, the medicine will have a more difficult time reaching the remainder of the body system.
The first reason for not allowing an IV is simply the break in the skin - which would be a continuous opening until the removal of the IV. Beyond that and even more important is the simple fact that lymphedema is caused by the inability of the arm to remove even the normal excess fluids of body dynamics. When you add the fluids that are present in the administration of an IV, you catastrophically overload the arm. It simply is totally unable to rid itself of that extra fluid thereby causing a substantial increase in swelling.
No Blood Pressure Tests
The danger of having a blood pressure test on an at-risk arm or an arm affected by lymphedema is that the squeezing involved can cause possible further damage to already fragile lymphatic and blood vessels. If this occurs, it would cause worsening of the lymphedema.