LYMPHEDEMA THERAPY

Rehab Dynamics offers lymphedema screenings and treatments by our certified Lymphedema Therapist, Kelly Villars, PT, DPT, CLT. Kelly also educates the patient on their specific condition and how to maintain positive results.

Lymphedema is a condition where there is a buildup of protein rich fluid causing tissue swelling. Swelling can occur in any part of the body but is most frequently seen in the arms/hands and legs/feet.

Lymphedema is classified as either primary or secondary. Primary lymphedema occurs when there is no specific injury or illness that caused the lymphedema. In this case, the individual has a decreased number of lymph nodes or has a faulty lymphatic system that is not working properly. In either case, there is a buildup of fluid that causes swelling. Secondary lymphedema can be associated with accidents or certain disease processes that may inhibit the lymphatic system from functioning properly. It is most frequently see after lymph nodes are removed and/or following radiation therapy during the treatment of cancer.

Symptoms of lymphedema can include:

  • Severe fatigue
  • A heavy swollen arm/leg
  • Swelling in other body parts, including the head and neck or genitals
  • Discoloration of the skin overlying the lymphedema with hardening skin (fibrosis
  • Deformity if left untreated (elephantitis)

The most common and widely accepted treatment for lymphedema is complete decongestive therapy (CDT) which includes:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage (a sequence of massage strokes used to drain fluid from the affected part)
  • Compression garments or short stretch bandaging  – Worn following CDT to maintain edema reduction. Depending on the certified lymphedema therapist’s discretion, a compression garment may be custom-fit or purchased over-the-counter. Compression garments are  meant to be worn every day to maintain edema reduction and must be replaced on a regular basis.
  • Skin care
  • Individualized exercises including breathing techniques to encourage the drainage of lymph fluid

A lymphatic pump for home use may also be used as a complement to CDT.

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