Having a stroke is one of the most frightening prospects of aging. Strokes can come on suddenly, stealing the use of an arm or the ability to speak. A stroke can be fatal or leave us permanently disabled.
About half of all strokes are caused by atherosclerosis -- the same process of narrowing and hardening of the arteries that causes heart attacks. Atherosclerosis progresses silently, without symptoms, putting our brains and our independence at risk.
Reducing the risk factors for atherosclerosis...
If you have a tendency to clench your fist on the
affected arm, keep your fingernails short and smooth so that you do not cut
If you cannot feel sensations in your feet, cut and file
your toenails straight across so that you do not scratch yourself.
Soaking your hands and feet may make your nails easier to cut. If you
diabetes, talk with your doctor about the care of your
If you cannot feel heat on your affected side, you may be more prone
to burns. Tips to prevent burns include the following:
Test the temperature of bath water or dishwater
using your unaffected side.
Bathe and do dishes in lukewarm
Use pot holders whenever you work near a
Turn pot handles away from you to prevent
Wear nonflammable clothes when you cook, and do not wear
clothes with long sleeves or ruffles that could get caught in an
If you have poor muscle tone in an arm, you may be at risk for
shoulder problems. The weight of an affected arm can cause the shoulder to
dislocate (shoulder subluxation). You also may tend not to use the shoulder,
which may cause pain and loss of motion (frozen shoulder). You can help prevent a frozen shoulder by:
Positioning and supporting your affected arm. For
example, wear an arm sling when sitting up or walking.
full movement (range of motion) of the affected joints either by moving your
arm or having someone move it for you.
Not overexercising your arm.
This can cause pain and make exercising more difficult.
Swelling occurs when the affected arm or leg cannot move
for a long period of time. A large amount of swelling:
Causes reduced blood flow in the limb, which
increases your chance of getting skin sores (pressure
Limits movement of the limb, which increases your chance of
having the joint stiffen (contracture).
Causes pain and
discomfort in and around the swollen tissues.
Some tips to prevent swelling in your affected arm or leg
include the following:
Elevate the affected arm or leg. If your arm
hangs down at your side for long periods of time, you will have more swelling
in the arm.
Follow your doctor's advice about what daily exercises to do. There are exercises you can do to help drain fluid from the affected arm or leg.
See a physical therapist. He or she can teach you how to do special massages that can help move fluid out of your arm or leg. You also can learn what activities would be best for you.
Try compression stockings to keep fluid from building up in your arm or leg. Your doctor or therapist can help you know what size to buy.
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this