What is lymphedema?
Lymphedema is the swelling of a body part such as the arm, leg, or trunk caused by a buildup of lymph fluid in the body tissue. The swelling is a result of the lymphatic system being damaged. Commonly, lymphedema occurs when lymph node and/or lymphatic vessels are damaged or removed during surgery. It can also be caused by:
- Radiation during cancer treatment
- Trauma or injury to the lymph node region
- Malignant tumor
How is lymphedema diagnosed?
Some of the common symptoms of lymphedema include:
- Swelling/puffiness of arm, leg, or trunk
- Tightness of the skin
- Discomfort in the arm, leg, or trunk
- Indenting of skin where swollen area is present
- Heavy feeling of the limb
- Burning sensation in the limb
- Difficulty using the affected area for daily activities
How is lymphedema treated?
There can be many causes for swelling. It is important to consult your oncologist or family doctor if you feel you have lymphedema. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist, such as a physical therapist who has been trained in lymphedema management.
Early treatment for lymphedema can:
- Lower the swelling
- Stop the swelling from getting worse
- Decrease the risk of infections or other related lymphedema conditions
- Skin care
- Manual lymph drainage massage technique
- Specific exercises
- Fitting for a compression sleeve or stocking
Because lymphedema is an ongoing condition that requires daily care, Mendelson Kornblum Physical Therapy provides patient education and services to help maintain limb functionality and control symptoms. Our lymphedema specialist has advanced training in conditions affecting the upper and lower extremities and effective management techniques, such as massage to help promote lymph drainage, proper fitting for compression garments, and self-massage and bandaging.