Lymphedema is a build up of protein-rich fluid in a body part caused by damage to the lymphatic system. If lymph nodes are damaged, they cannot drain well causing fluid to build up and swelling to occur in the head, neck, trunk, breast, genitals, arms or legs. Once you have lymphedema, it does not go away but it can be managed and we are here to help. Learn more about managing lymphedema after breast cancer surgery.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Clothing or jewelry that used to fit now feels tight
- Surgery -- especially in areas with many lymph nodes and vessels
- Chronic venous insufficiency
NOTE: Because there are other kinds of swelling problems that are not lymphedema, your physician needs to diagnose the condition.
If you are diagnosed with lymphedema, our therapy services team at Valley Medical Center can help you manage the condition. An internationally recognized approach, called Complex Decongestive Therapy, is used to control the swelling and consists of:
- Manual lymph drainage to stimulate and redirect lymph flow through specialized massage
- Compression with bandaging, garments, and occasionally pumps
- Exercise to improve motion and strength and move fluid more efficiently
- Skin care to maintain healthy tissue and prevent infection
Experienced therapists with specialized training, and national certification (LANA), provide individualized care. Education is very important to learn how to manage your lymphedema independently and confidently. We also encourage you to bring a family member or friend to your treatment sessions to learn how to assist you as needed.
To make an appointment:
A referral from your healthcare provider is needed for treatment and payment by your insurance. Talk about your concerns with your provider and ask for a therapy referral. The Rehabilitation Department is located in the Northwest Pavilion on the hospital campus. To schedule an appointment, please contact us.