Lymphedema is the accumulation of protein-rich fluid, which usually causes chronic inflammation and reactive fibrosis. It occurs when the normal drainage of fluid is disrupted by a blockage or a cut in the lymph nodes in the groin area or the armpit.
Lymphedema can be a hereditary condition, but it's most commonly the result of blockages caused by infection, cancer, and scar tissue from radiation therapy or the surgical removal of lymph nodes.
Our physical therapists will serve as an important member of your health care team 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 sever swelling, the 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 a decreased to the desired size, your physical therapist will help you begin to take over your own care by:
Call our clinic at 304-295-7290 so we can help answer any other questions you may have about lymphedema treatment, or let you speak to one of our specialty trained physical therapists.
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