Comprehensive Lymphedema Treatment
Lymphedema is a chronic, progressive swelling caused by an abnormal accumulation of lymphatic fluid. Swelling often occurs in the arm or leg. It can be caused by a birth defect in the lymphatic system or damage to the lymphatic system during surgery, cancer treatment or trauma. If left untreated, lymphedema can worsen with time.
Cone Health Outpatient Rehabilitation Center is part of the National Lymphedema Network of treatment centers.
The Comprehensive Lymphedema Treatment Program combines specialized therapy techniques and education to help patients manage their condition. Program participants attend therapy two to three times per week for approximately two to six weeks.
Lymphedema Treatment Options
Manual Lymph Drainage
This gentle, relaxing manual technique decompresses and drains blocked lymph vessels. It redirects lymphatic fluid from compromised lymph nodes towards healthy ones. Manual lymph drainage takes approximately 30 minutes per treatment session, depending upon the severity of the swelling.
Short-stretch bandages are applied to the affected limb. This prevents reaccumulation of fluid that was removed during manual lymph drainage. Patients learn how to apply compression bandages in order to continue therapy after the program is completed.
An individualized, graded exercise program, including cardiovascular exercise, stretching and strengthening, is developed for each patient. When combined with compression bandaging, muscle action helps to remove lymphatic fluid from the arm or leg and to improve overall lymph flow. Patients are encouraged to continue the exercise program after therapy is finished.
Patients learn about skin care and how to recognize and avoid skin infections. You should discuss your concerns about lymphedema with your physician.