Lymphedema Therapy & Cancer Rehabilitation

Lymphedema is a chronic condition in which an abnormal accumulation of protein-rich swelling occurs in the head, face trunk, arms legs or genitals. There are two types of Lymphedema, Primary and Secondary. Primary Lymphedema can be present at birth, develop at puberty or in adulthood. It is often hereditary or a result of deficiency in lymphatic system development. Secondary Lymphedema appears as a result of damage to the lymphatic system often after cancer surgery to remove lymph nodes, with radiation therapy or in combination with venous insufficiency or other medical disorders. The condition causes a feeling of heaviness in the limb, uncomfortable swelling and reduced limb function along with a high risk of infections.

Treatment for Lymphedema consists of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) which includes manual lymphatic drainage to improve lymph circulation and decrease swelling as well as reduce fibrosis and scar tissue, compression wrapping to improve lymphatic circulation and reduce limb volume, instruction in skin care to prevent infections and reduce the risk of cellulitis and use of long term compression garments for day and night to maintain limb size, use and flexibility.

If you have had lymph nodes removed or surgery affecting your lymph nodes it would be wise to visit us for Lymphedema education and assessment by our certified Lymphedema therapist even if you are not yet experiencing swelling or limitation. Early management can make a big difference in recovery.

For more information about Lymphedema you can contact the following resources:

  • National Lymphedema Network: Visit lymphnet.org for complete information regarding exercise, air travel, treatment, and risk reduction
  • Lymphology Association of North America: clt-lana.org
  • “Coping with Lymphedema” Diane Sackett Nannery & Joan Swirsky (1998)