Your Checkup

March is Lymphedema Awareness Month!

by Haley Thomas | Mar 10, 2017

Millions of individuals in the United States suffer from lymphedema and lymphatic diseases. According to the Lymphatic Education & Research Network, more people suffer from these diseases in the United States than from Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and AIDS—combined. While there is no cure for lymphedema, compression treatments and physical therapy may help reduce the discomfort and swelling.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the interstitial tissue that causes swelling; most often in the arm(s) and/or leg(s), as well as, occasionally in other parts of the body. Lymphedema can develop when lymphatic vessels are missing or impaired (primary) or when lymph vessels are damaged/lymph nodes removed (secondary). Commonly lymphedema is a result of cancer treatment especially when lymph nodes are removed such as with a mastectomy that involved lymph node removal.

Symptoms of Lymphedema:

Lymphedema can develop in any part of the body or limbs. Signs and symptoms include: a "full" sensation in the limb, skin feeling tight, decreased flexibility in the hand, wrist, or ankle, difficulty fitting into clothes in one specific area, and/or ring/watch/bracelet tightness. If you notice persistent swelling, it is important to seek medical advice. Early diagnosis and treatment improves both the prognosis and the condition.

Treatment of Lymphedema:

The best way to treat lymphedema includes a five step process known as the Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). This includes manual lymph drainage, compression bandaging, individualized exercise, self-care, and meticulous skin care.

Where is lymphedema treatment located?

Right here at VWCH in the physical rehab department. We have a lymphedema therapist and assistant who are highly trained in treating and managing lymphedema. Find out more by calling Physical Rehabilitation at 419-238-8626, we would be happy to answer any questions.