Lymphedema is swelling of a body part, (including but not limited to the arm, leg, head, neck, breast, genitals and abdomen), which is caused by abnormal accumulation of protein-rich lymph fluid. The condition is both chronic and progressive. Most common complaints are feelings of heaviness, discomfort, limitations of function and has a high risk of infection. The skin texture is also affected and may lead to thickening or hardening. While lymphedema often occurs without any obvious cause, it can be brought on by any injury or disruption of the lymphatic system. Some additional causes may include surgery, cancer (including radiation and chemotherapy treatments), obesity, infection and venous insufficiency.
Under the orders and clearance of a physician, following a thorough evaluation, patients are treated by therapists trained and certified in complete decongestive therapy (CDT). CDT is considered the least invasive but most intensive treatment approach. Patients will generally be seen for one hour per day, two to five days per week, for two to six weeks. A long term course of treatment will be decided and discussed following the consultation, as lymphedema is a chronic condition and must be managed for life. Treatment consists of patient education, skin care, manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) which is a specialized massage to help stimulate the lymphatic system, compression and exercise.
Who Can Benefit
The lymphedema program is designed for any individual who is experiencing discomfort and reduced mobility due to swelling of an extremity. A prior diagnosis of lymphedema is not required for consideration of eligibility.
Joining the Lymphedema Program
Consultation with a physician is required for clearance to participate in the program. Clearance includes documentation stating no current infection as well as a Doppler of the extremity to rule out deep vein thrombosis or blood clots.
To schedule an appointment with a certified lymphedema therapist or for further information, please call 845-786-4194.