Lymphedema is a condition that occurs when the lymph nodes in your body are unable to drain properly. It causes swelling in the arms and legs as well as face, groin, or torso areas.
Lymphedema therapy treats the condition of lymphedema by moving the fluid out of your blocked lymph nodes where it can be reabsorbed and removed from your body.
Symptoms of Lymphedema
Symptoms of lymphedema include:
- Swelling in affected areas, most commonly in the arms and legs
- Aching, pain, and discomfort
- The affected area feels tight or heavy
- Limited range of motion in affected joints
- Skin in area hardens or feels tight
How Lymphedema Therapy Works
Lymphedema therapy seeks to treat what is often called a “plumbing problem” in your body. It works by getting the lymphatic fluid moving again so that the body can process it normally once more.
When the lymphatic system is blocked, it can increase your risk for infection as the cells don’t get the vital nutrients they need. Lymphedema treatment consists of some of the following treatments:
- Manual lymph drainage (MLD) — This gentle technique requires slow and gentle manipulation of the affected body part to move the lymphatic fluid out of the place it has collected
- Therapeutic Exercise Program — The certified therapist prescribes certain exercises that will decrease your pain and increase your range of motion
- Compression Therapy and Bandaging — The certified therapist will apply compression bandages to help reduce lymphatic fluid plus prevent further fluid from accumulating
- Skin Care Therapy — Often your skin becomes dry and prone to infection when you have lymphedema. The certified therapist will prescribe a skin care regimen that will help you skin heal and become healthy again
- Compression Clothing Fitting — Once the lymphedema starts to improve, you will need to wear special compression clothing that will help reduce the chance of further occurrences of the condition