Lymphedema is swelling generally in the arms or legs due to a blockage in your lymphatic system. Specific cancer-related surgeries such as surgical resection of melanoma, breast, gynecological, head and neck, prostate or testicular, bladder, or colon cancer may require the removal of lymph nodes. These surgeries put patients at risk of developing secondary lymphedema. Identifying and treating lymphedema early helps ensure faster and better outcomes, but even treatment later on, during the chronic stages of the disease, can still help.
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)/Combined Decongestive Therapy is a non-invasive, painless and very effective therapy for Lymphedema. Our lymphedema specialist has completed special training in lymphedema management and has advanced knowledge, experience, and skills in treating patients with lymphedema.
Our lymphedema specialist will review your medical history and medications and perform a thorough physical examination, and will work closely with you to design a treatment program to help control the swelling and meet your goals for returning to your activities.
In the early stages of lymphedema, when the swelling is mild, it can often be managed by compression garments, exercise, and elevation of the affected limb to encourage lymph flow. For more severe swelling, your physical therapist may use a treatment called "complete decongestive therapy." The initial step often includes manual lymphatic drainage, which feels like a light form of massage and helps improve the flow of lymph from your arm or leg. This is followed by compression bandaging that helps to reduce the swelling. Your therapist will carefully monitor the size of the limb throughout your treatment sessions.
Once the limb has decreased to the desired size, your physical therapist will help you begin to take over your own care by:
- Developing a safe and sensible exercise program that will increase your physical fitness without unnecessarily straining your affected arm or leg
- Updating your compression garments to ensure proper fitting, working with you to find the type of garment that best meets your needs
- Educating you about proper diet to decrease fluid buildup in your tissues and skin care to reduce the risk of infection
- American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
- National Lymphedema Network (NLN)
- Marilyn Westbrook Garment Fund
- Support Groups
If you have questions or are interested in this treatment please Contact Us