Lymphedema Overview

What is Lymphedema?
How to Recognize Lymphedema
Who is at Risk Lymphedema?
What are the Complications of Lymphedema?
What is the treatment for Lymphedema?for 
What to expect during your initial visit

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is swelling caused when the lymphatic system is compromised. This can occur when lymph nodes are removed or radiated, or when the system is damaged for some other reason. It is different in nature and consequence from 

 

How to Recognize Lymphedema

The most common initial symptom is swelling. Jewelry and clothing may feel tighter.   Some may also experience numbness, stiffness or a feeling of heaviness in the affected area.    

Who is at Risk for Lymphedema?

Anyone who has undergone surgery with lymph node removal and/or radiation is at risk for developing lymphedema.  The condition can occur at any time.  Additionally at risk are those suffering from chronic venous insufficiency, severe obesity, or a family history of swelling in the lower extremities. 

 

What are the Complications of Lymphedema?

The most serious complication is a skin infection called cellulitis, which commonly presents as redness, heat, achiness or flu-like symptoms.  Other complications are loss of strength, functional disability, pain and cosmetic deformity. 

What is the treatment for Lymphedema?

The most effective treatment for lymphedema is Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT).  This treatment involves several steps. 

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is a type of gentle massage specifically designed to stimulate the lymphatic system. It is very relaxing and pleasant.

Compression through bandaging or garments follows the MLD treatment to keep fluid from re-accumulating. 

Simple exercises are given to be performed while the limb is compressed, which further enhances lymphatic drainage.  

Instructions in self care, including skin care, compression and risk reduction practices are reviewed.

In summary, the goal of CDT is to reduce the edema, restore function, improve cosmetic appearance and to help you become independent in managing your lymphedema.

What to expect during your initial visit

Your first visit will include a medical history and review as well as a treatment. We will discuss the best plan of care for you.