Lymphedema is a condition in which the lymphatic system (part of your circulatory system) of the body is unable to properly transport lymph fluid from the tissue spaces back into the blood stream. This leads to swelling that can occur in the arms, legs, trunk, head or neck. Lymphedema can occur for a variety of reasons, including: an impaired lymphatic system from birth, after a surgery (most commonly after lymph node removal during surgery for breast or other cancers), infection (like cellulitis) or radiation treatment.
What are the symptoms of lymphedema?
Swelling is the main symptom, and often this swelling is localized to one body region. Early symptoms can be a heaviness, achiness or fullness in the arm or leg, tight feeling skin or clothing that feels tighter in one specific area of the body.
How can Physical Therapy help?
Specially trained physical therapists can provide invaluable rehabilitative care for people with lymphedema. In order to lead an active lifestyle with lymphedema, early intervention and lifelong management techniques are key. PTS utilizes a comprehensive approach that emphasizes helping patients understand their condition and treatment. In addition to understanding precautions to reduce the risk of developing lymphedema, rehabilitation programs can also be helpful. These programs are designed to improve strength, flexibility, endurance and range of motion, as well as, reducing swelling and other symptoms.
Treatment may include the following:
- Manual lymphatic drainage, used to mobilize and remove fluid and protein from an affected area through a specialized massage technique
- Scar mobilization
- Multi-layer bandaging to decrease swelling and soften the tissues
- Therapeutic exercises to improve lymph drainage
- Patient education to help patients take control of their lives by learning how to properly manage their lymphedema
- Compression garments to decrease swelling during daily activities
- Compression pumping (in select cases) to assist circulation of lymphatic fluid through the use of pneumatic pumps
Here at PTS, our experienced therapists are trained for the specific evidenced-based treatment techniques that are proven effective for the treatment of lymphedema. Your treatment program will be one-on-one, hands-on and tailored to your specific needs.
Contact us to see how PTS can help YOU today! Although no physician referral is needed to see a physical therapist, some insurance companies may require a referral for coverage.