What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the interstitial tissue that causes swelling, most often in the arm(s) and/or leg(s), and occasionally in other parts of the body. Lymphedema can develop when lymphatic vessels are missing or impaired (primary), or when lymph vessels are damaged or lymph nodes removed (secondary).
Important Facts about “Causing Lymphedema”
- Surgery and Radiation only affect the CAPACITY and FUNCTIONING of the Lymphatic System
- They lower the capacity of the lymph system in that area and make it VUNERABLE. Surgery and Radiation are NOT the cause of Lymphedema.
- With a lower capacity it is easier to overstress the Lymphatic System which can lead to Lymphedema
Treatment for Lymphedema
At Integrative Physical Therapy, LLC patients with Lymphedema are treated with Complete Decongestive Therapy during private, one-on-one Physical Therapy sessions. Treatment consists of the following:
- Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)– a gentle manual treatment which improves the activity of the lymph vascular system. In Lymphedema, it re-routs the lymph flow around the blocked areas into more centrally located healthy lymph vessels which drain into the venous system.
- Compression Bandaging– Short stretch bandages are applied to increase the tissue pressure in the swollen extremity.
- Exercise– to increase lymph vessel activity and increase venous and lymphatic return.
- Fitting for Compression Garments
- Education– patients will be educated in Infection prevention, skin and nail care, and Risk Reduction techniques