What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a chronic health condition when there is abnormal accumulation of protein rich lymph fluid just beneath the skin causing swelling.
What causes Lymphedema?
Lymphedema commonly occurs when a person undergoes surgery which compromises the body’s lymph vessels and when lymph nodes are removed after mastectomy, lumectomy or radiation therapy for cancer. Other causes of Lymphedema include orthopedic surgery, venous insufficiency, infection, and obesity. This is secondary lymphedema. Primary lymphedema is when there is a congenital anomaly in the lymphatic vessels causing swelling of a body part.
What are the signs and symptoms of Lymphedema?
- Heaviness and limitation of movement
- Repeated infections
- Skin thickening and hardening
- Pain or discomfort
- The Lymphedema Therapy Program Complete Decongestive Therapy
*Manual Lymphatic Drainage-MLD is a gentle massage technique utilized to move lymph fluid from the swollen region into parts of the lymphatic system that are still functioning.
*Compression bandaging is done after MLD. This is layers of specialized compression bandages. These bandages prevent re-accumulation of lymph fluid.
*Therapeutic Excercises-medically supervised exercise while the limb is bandaged to promote strength and further improve circulation.
*Skin and Nail care to prevent the onset of imperfections as people with lyphemdema are more prone to infection, especially cellulitis.
* Compression garment fitting/referral for compression garment. This is done once the part is decongested. The compression garment is worn daily to help maintain the results achieved from lymphedema treatment.
*Education of Self-care-The lymphedema therapist will teach you how to maintain your progress through a home program including self-massage, self bandaging, compression garment use, exercise, skin and nail care.