Lymphedema refers to a swelling condition that occurs most commonly in the arm or leg. It can cause tissue swelling and progression if left untreated.
Although lymphedema cannot be cured, it can be managed to reduce swelling and pain and prevent infection. Physical therapy for lymphedema is a great option for many people suffering from this condition.
Inspirit Therapy offers lymphedema therapy and treatment. To begin the lymphedema treatment and evaluation process, a referral from a physician may be required.
The management of lymphedema is a key role played by physical therapists, and specifically CLT’s certified lymphedema therapy (CLT). CLTs use the highest standard of treatment for swelling. This includes manual lymphatic drainage and compression therapy using short stretch bandages or compression garments. Gentle exercise is also recommended. Manual lymphatic drainage, a manual technique that moves lymph fluid in the right direction to maximize reabsorption by lymph nodes and reduce swelling in the affected limb, is called manual lymphatic drainage. It is dependent on the severity of the swelling. Short stretch bandages can be used daily, but this requires that the patient see the CLT at least 3-5 days per wrap. Compression therapy can also be performed by wearing a compression garment, which has been ordered and sized for the patient.
What causes lymphedema?
Lymphedema may be caused by damage to the lymphatic system, trauma, or removal of lymph nodes. The lymphatic system, which is part of the immune defense system, helps to fight infections and illnesses.
Lymphatic fluid can build up in an area affected by a damaged lymphatic system or if it is not functioning well. This can cause swelling. Lymphedema can also lead to open wounds and skin discoloration, which can cause mobility problems. Lymphedema is not curable, but occupational and physical therapy can significantly reduce its symptoms so that you can return to your daily activities.
What is lymphedema therapy?
Lymphedema therapy is a treatment that reduces swelling in the legs and arms by moving lymphatic fluid from the affected limbs. It can also reduce swelling.
A lymphedema therapist will show you how to use the compression sleeve. This helps push fluid from the leg or arm toward the center of your body. Manual lymphatic drainage is another option. This is a therapeutic massage that uses the arm and leg to push the fluid towards the center of your body.
What should you expect?
Your therapist will review your medical history, measure the affected and unaffected limbs, and answer any questions. Your concerns and needs will be listened to by the therapist. Together with your goals, he or she may develop a care plan which could include:
- Manual lymphatic drainage is performed to stimulate lymph fluid movement.
- Short stretch bandaging
- Compression garment education
- Education about proper skin care and protection for the affected area
- Management of your condition requires independence
- Training programs that increase muscle strength and lymph flow
Your therapist will make adjustments to your treatment as necessary during your ongoing appointments. This will help reduce your symptoms of lymphedema and pain.
Therapy could also include:
- Lymphedema exercises
- Prevention of complications through education
- Hygiene and skin care recommendations
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I am so grateful to have found Inspirit Therapy. Eliza and the staff are wonderful, I can’t thank Eliza enough, for all she is doing for me!!!
Eliza is the best women’s health physical therapist I’ve been to. She is the only person who knew how to relieve my pudendal nerve pain which I’ve suffered with for over 20 years. No other doctor, specialist, or women’s health therapist I’ve been to knows how to treat this pain. Eliza released my tight pelvic floor muscles which gave me better bladder control. She released many tight muscles I had (back, hips, etc.) by determining where the source of tightness or pain was coming from. I’m so glad I was referred to her. It’s changed my life!