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Lymphedema

Lymphedema

Pain-free movement begins with physical therapy.

The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system and is a network of vessels that carry lymph fluid towards the heart. The lymphatic system is an essential part of your immune and circulatory systems. When a blockage happens in your lymphatic system, swelling (“edema”) of your arms or legs may occur. Improper drainage results in a build up of the lymph fluid in your arms or legs, which can generate adverse health risks.

Lymphedema often occurs after a surgery, such as the removal or damage to the lymph nodes as part of cancer treatments, or due to infected tissues. With chronic swelling, there are many risks, including circulation issues, risk of infection and potential for future injury. It is very important to receive treatment for Lymphedema and to follow up with your doctor on a routine basis.  Identifying and treating lymphedema early helps ensure faster and better outcomes, but even treatment later on, during the chronic stages of the disease, can still help.

Our comprehensive Lymphedema treatments include:

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD): A gentle, hands-on massage of both the affected body part and adjacent selected areas. MLD can move lymph fluid from the swollen region into parts of the lymphatic system that are still functioning. From there, the fluid is transported throughout the circulatory system.
  • Compression Bandaging: After MLD, the treated area is wrapped with layers of compression bandages. Bandages help prevent the re-accumulation of lymphatic fluid.
  • Therapeutic Exercise: Medically supervised exercise programs are designed to strengthen muscles and improve circulation and function of the lymph system.
  • Personalized Education in Self-Care: Our Lymphedema therapy specialists will teach you how to maintain your treatment progress through at-home techniques, including self-bandaging, self-massage, exercise, skin and nail care.

Your physical therapist will serve as an important member of your health care team and will work closely with you to design a treatment program to help control the swelling and meet your goals for returning to your activities.

In the early stages of lymphedema, when the swelling is mild, it can often be managed by compression garments, exercise, and elevation of the affected limb to encourage lymph flow. For more severe swelling, your physical therapist may use a treatment called “complete decongestive therapy.” The initial step often includes manual lymphatic drainage, which feels like a light form of massage and helps improve the flow of lymph from your arm or leg. This is followed by compression bandaging that helps to reduce the swelling. Your therapist will carefully monitor the size of the limb throughout your treatment sessions.

Once the limb has decreased to the desired size, your physical therapist will help you begin to take over your own care by:

  • Developing a safe and sensible exercise program that will increase your physical fitness without unnecessarily straining your affected arm or leg
  • Updating your compression garments to ensure proper fitting, working with you to find the type of garment that best meets your needs
  • Educating you about proper diet to decrease fluid buildup in your tissues and skin care to reduce the risk of infection

Our Shelby Township location has a Lymphedema specialist on-site.

Call today to schedule your FREE injury or pain assessment (855) 477-8463. Offering locations in Oakland, Macomb and Lapeer Counties throughout Southeast Michigan. We are locally owned and operated rehabilitation health facilities, where our patients are more than a number…they are family!