What is Lymphedema
Lymphedema is a very common and serious condition, affecting at least 3 million Americans. It occurs when the lymphatic system becomes insufficient and is unable to perform its normal function of carrying lymph fluid through our lymphatic system. The result is an abnormal accumulation of water and proteins mainly in the subcutaneous tissues.
Lymphedema is most commonly present in the extremities; it may also affect the trunk, abdomen, head and neck, the external genitalia as well as inner organs. Its onset can be gradual in some patients and sudden in others.
Lymphedema is serious due to its long-term physical and psychosocial consequences for patients. It continues to progress if left untreated.
COMPLETE DECONGESTIVE THERAPY:
Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is considered to be the gold standard of lymphedema treatment and this treatment is described as being a two-phase program. This therapy should only be performed by a trained and licensed therapist.
Phase 1 is known as the decongestive phase.
During this phase the patient is seen by a trained therapist and usually wears short stretch bandages (wrapping) or bandaging alternative for 23 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The primary goals of this phase are:
To reduce the swelling in the affected area until the swollen extremity is reduced to a normal or near normal size.
To teach the patient/caregiver the self-care skills needed to continue this treatment at home.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) to reroute excess fluid out of the swollen tissues so that it can return to the circulatory system.
Phase 2 is also known as the self management phase. During this phase the patient assumes the responsibility for managing, improving and maintaining the results achieved in the first phase. If the patient is unable to do this, a caregiver is trained to take over this role.
These treatments include:
Compression worn daily to prevent the swelling from returning to the tissues again. Daily compression is important in maximizing gains between each treatment visit
Self-Massage to move lymph fluid out of the tissues
Skin care to maintain the health of the tissues so that breaks in the skin will not allow infections.
Exercise to maintain the flow of lymph, increase mobility, control weight, and improve the patient’s general health and sense of well-being.
Your Rehab and Lymphedema Management begins here:
Call and speak with us about your current condition and goals. Whether you have a new onset or longstanding condition, your licensed and certified therapist will create a treatment plan aimed at helping you manage your lymphedema and regain functional independence. Compassionate care and a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs can help you make rapid progress.
Lymphedema Treatment should not be attempted by an individual who is not properly trained in Complete Decongestive Therapy.