Lymphedema is a chronic disorder characterized by swelling in the arms, hands, feet, legs, chest, groin, and abdominal areas. Lymphedema develops when damage or disruption to the lymphatic system occurs in the body, most commonly from surgical intervention or disease. Disturbances of the lymphatic system can lead to the accumulation of protein rich fluid that remains in the interstitial tissues, resulting in swelling and hardening in the arms or legs, or in some cases the entire body. Lymphedema is a chronic disorder, and must be managed by long term use of compression garments for the best outcomes. If you are suffering from lymphedema, contact Mobility Project Physical Therapy today to find relief!
How does damage to the lymphatic system occur?
Primary (congenital) Lymphedema – This occurs when the lymphatic system develops abnormally. A person may be born with an abnormal lymphatic system, and over time, the system loses its ability to compensate for the demands placed upon it. Eventually, primary lymphedema develops.
Secondary Lymphedema – This occurs when an outside mechanism causes injury to a healthy lymphatic system. Secondary lymphedema most commonly develops after surgery, radiation, infection, contusion, diseases such as cancer or heart disease, or dislocation. The damage can be permanent, resulting in inadequate function and leading to chronic swelling in the affected limb. Lymphedema can also develop after treatment for breast cancer or mastectomy surgery. The best treatment is prevention.
Early diagnosis and quick intervention can significantly minimize the effects of lymphedema. The nationally recognized, gold standard of care is Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). CDT includes compression bandaging, manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), therapeutic exercise, and transition to an appropriate compression garment for long term management.
Some common symptoms to look out for include, but are not limited to:
- Restricted range of motion
We provide Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) for comprehensive and effective treatment of upper and lower extremity lymphedema. This includes compression bandaging, manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), therapeutic exercise, and transition to an appropriate compression garment for long term management. CDT is the nationally-recognized, gold-standard of care for lymphedema. Our clinicians are certified specialists through the Norton School of Lymphatic Therapy.
LYMPHEDEMA TREATMENT PHASES
Phase I: Intensive Phase – The intensive phase of lymphedema management includes visits 3x per week for approximately 4 weeks, encompassing MLD (manual lymphatic drainage), meticulous skin care, compression bandaging and exercises to promote lymphatic return.
Phase II: Management Phase – Follow up sessions of MLD as needed, exercise, meticulous skin care, and compression bandaging until transition to appropriate compression garments is possible. Follow lymphedema prevention guidelines, and maintain periodic re-evaluation for garment replacement (6-12mo).
Contact our Eugene, OR physical therapy office today if you are suffering with lymphedema and need some relief. Mobility Project Physical Therapy will help to reduce your lymphedema symptoms and improve your daily life. Your pain-free movement starts here!