Lymphedema is a chronic condition in which an abnormal amount of swelling occurs. Lymphedema more commonly occurs in the arm or leg as a result of damage to the lymphatic system. Surgery, radiation or trauma are some of the more common causes of lymphedema.
Left untreated lymphedema can:
- Cause pain and discomfort
- Increase risk for skin infection and breakdown
- Increase swelling and size of the limb
- Decrease function and activity
Physical and occupational therapist are specially trained to detect, prevent and/ or manage lymphedema.
Rehabilitation may consist of:
- Manual lymphatic drainage massage – specialized technique designed to stimulate the uptake of lymph flow and move the fluid out of the body
- Medical compression bandaging, which can include the use of low stretch bandaging systems to prevent refill of treated areas and continual stimulation of lymphatic structures
- An exercise program to help utilize the muscle pumping action of the body to move fluid along lymphatic pathways
- Providing you with information on skin and nail hygiene to reduce the risk of infection.
- Updating your compression garments to ensure they fit properly and best meet your needs.
- Educating you about how proper nutrition and diet, and skin and nail care can help reduce your risk of infection.
- Working towards independence in managing your condition
- Develop an exercise programs to help increase muscle strength and improve lymph flow