What is lymphedema?
Lymphedema is an accumulation of protein-rich “lymph” fluid in the tissues under the skin, causing swelling in an arm, leg, neck or any area of the body.
What causes lymphedema?
Lymphedema usually occurs as a result of surgical dissection of lymph nodes for breast, melanoma, prostate or head/neck cancers. Other causes can include radiation therapy, trauma, infections, morbid obesity and venous insufficiency.
How is lymphedema treated?
Our Certified Lymphedema Therapists (CLTs) teach patients how to manage their condition with the following:
- Gentle Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) techniques,
- Skin care, Compression bandaging,
- Therapeutic exercises,
- Proper fitting of compression garments.
Breast Cancer and Lymphedema
Breast cancer related lymphedema can cause significant swelling of the involved arm, forearm, and hand, breast, and even the trunk. It is mostly caused by damage and trauma to the body's lymphatic system during treatment for cancer. This can result in such problems as limited movement, joint pain and difficulty performing overhead activities.
Therapists that have had the additional certification for Complete Decongestive Physiotherapy (CDP) are experts in restoring motion and mobility. These therapists not only treat the effects of lymphedema, but also reduce the risk of reoccurrence.