Lymphedema is fairly common and affects approximately 1% percent of the U.S. population (2.5 million Americans). It is an abnormal accumulation of protein-enriched fluid (lymph fluid) within the tissue spaces throughout the body. It results from an imbalance of the lymph transport capacity and the lymphatic load. Lymphedema may develop when the lymph vessels and/or nodes have been damaged or removed, leaving the lymphatic system unable the handle the excess lymph fluid. It is a chronic condition that, left untreated, will only continue to worsen. Treatment should begin as soon as lymphedema has occurred.
Primary lymphedema can be present at birth, or it can develop at anytime. With primary lymphedema, the swelling can occur for many reasons and may be associated with anomalies.
Secondary lymphedema can result from surgical removal of lymph nodes, damage to vessels, scarring across vessels, radiation therapy, tumor growth, blockage of lymph nodes, lipoedema, infection, inflammation, trauma, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, filariasis, and/or chronic venous insufficiency. The most frequent incidents occur in patients who have had surgery to remove malignant tumors.
- Swelling of the arms, legs, truck, or face/neck
- A feeling of heaviness or discomfort in the area, often resulting in less mobility
- Repeated infections in the area
- Thickened skin
There are two types of Lymphedema: primary and secondary.
Therapy services are provided by licensed therapists who have completed at least 120 hours of specialized training and are certified in lymphedema therapy. Treatment plans are customized to each individual’s condition. After an assessment, the therapist will make recommendations on the amount and length of therapy needed.
Our treatment program consists of four steps:
- Meticulous skin and nail care are incorporated along with eradication of any infection
- MLD or Manual Lymphatic Drainage consists of gentle hands-on techniques to activate the lymph nodes and collectors to re-route lymph fluid into healthy channels for drainage.
- Compression bandaging is immediately applied following MLD. This prevents reaccumulation of edema that was just excavated.
- Guided exercise and joint movement is an important aspect to improving overall circulation and will assist with further drainage of fluid.
Following discharge from care, a patient may be instructed to use compression stockings regularly, a home exercise program, and may even benefit from home application of a pneumatic compression device to manage lymphedema independently.
Please contact us for more information.