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Lymphedema Treatment At Good Samaritan North Rehabilitation Department

What is Lymphedema

Lymphedema is an excessive overload of a protein rich fluid, which accumulates in tissue spaces when the lymphatic system is damaged or compromised.

If you have had any lymph nodes removed or received radiation treatments as part of your cancer treatments, you are at risk to develop lymphedema. This condition is called secondary lymphedema.

Primary lymphedema is a condition people are born with, which may be present at birth, at puberty, or later on in life. The lymph vessels are either absent, too large, or underdeveloped.

With either form of lymphedema, early treatment can reduce your risk of serious problems.  The length of treatment depends upon the severity and duration of the lymphedema.

Symptoms of Lymphedema

  • Swelling in your arm or leg lasting more than two weeks, with or without pain
  • Limb feels full or heavy
  • Skin feels tight
  • Decreased flexibility
  • Clothing feels tight
  • Change in sensation of the affected limb

When to Contact your Physician

  • If you notice any swelling in your limb that lasts more than two weeks
  • Any part of the affected limb feels hot or red
  • If you have a temperature more than 100.5˚F with swelling or redness of limb, not related to cold or flu
  • If you notice your limb is less flexible

Ways to Reduce Risk

  • Have blood drawn or shots given on the unaffected side
  • Have blood pressure taken on unaffected side
  • Protect yourself from sunburn
  • Avoid high heat from hot tubs and saunas
  • Avoid deep massage to the affected area
  • Avoid tight clothing, or jewelry in affected area
  • Avoid cuts, burns, bug bites

Treatment for Lymphedema

At Good Samaritan North Rehabilitation Department we have Certified Lymphedema Physical Therapists who are experts in treating and caring for the unique needs of the patient with lymphedema.

Four components of treatment:

1. Skin hygiene - elmininate bacterial and fungal growth by:

  • Daily bathing
  • Careful and thorough drying between skinfolds, fingers, and toes
  • Use of low pH skin lotions

2. Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD)

  • Gentle hands-on manual therapy technique which follows lymphatic pathways
  • Allows limb to return to near normal size

3. Bandaging and compression

  • Follows MLD and further reduces size of limb
  • Once reduction has stabilized, a compression garment can be ordered to maintain limb size

4. Remedial exercises

  • Performed while limb is bandaged to aid in reduction of limb

A physician referral is needed to receive this service.

Learn more about our Lymphedema Treatment at Good Samaritan North Health Center: