Lymphedema

Meet Our Lymphedema Therapists

Primary lymphedema is caused by congenital malformation of the lymphatic system. It may be present at birth or develop later in life, often in puberty or pregnancy. It is most common in the legs.

Secondary lymphedema is more common and can develop as a result of surgery, radiation, infection or trauma. For cancer patients, lymphedema is usually caused by removal or damage to lymph nodes as part of treatment (surgery or radiation). The most common cause of lymphedema in the United States is a result of procedures that involve the lymphatic system due to breast cancer surgery. Symptoms may occur within weeks after a procedure or years later.

Signs and Symptoms of lymphedema may include:

  • Feeling of heaviness, tightness in affected area
  • A bursting sensation, sense of fullness
  • Shooting pain, pin and needles, discomfort or aching
  • Swelling or puffiness
  • Loss of range of motion, joints are less flexible
  • Tight fitting clothing, watch or jewelry in one area
  • Swelling or tightness noticed after an airplane flight

Treatments:

Although there is no cure for lymphedema, it can be treated and controlled. Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is a safe noninvasive treatment that shows good long term results in reducing the swelling. This therapy is performed by a Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT) and includes:

  • Manual Lymph Drainage
  • Compression therapy
  • Specific gentle exercises
  • Professionally fit compression garments
  • Skin care
  • Patient education

Links:

lymphnet.org
nationalbreastcancer.org