Lymphedema is an abnormal accumulation
of protein-rich fluid in soft tissue due to a low volume (mechanical) insufficiency
of the lymphatic system.
Lymphedema can present in the extremities,
face, trunk, abdomen and inner organs. Once present, it is a chronic and
Congenital malformations of the lymphatic
system which may be present at birth or develop later on in life.
Secondary Lymphedema (more common)
Complete Decongestive Therapy
A result of damage to the lymphatic
Often the result of surgery or radiation
therapy for cancer, resection of lymph nodes or chronic venous insufficiency.
Since there is no cure for lymphedema,
the goal of CDI is to reduce the swelling and maintain the reduction through
non-invasive, painless therapy consisting of these four steps:
There are other treatment methods available
(diuretics, compression pumps, surgery) but none have been proven to be
as effective as CDT.
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) – A gentle,
manual technique which reroutes the lymph flow around the blocked areas
and back into the circulatory system.
Compression Therapy – Utilizes short-stretch
bandages and compression garments to prevent the re-accumulation of fluid,
improve the function of the muscle pumps, reduce fibrotic tissue, and promote
venous and lymphatic return.
Exercise – A customized exercise program
should be performed while the patient wears the bandages or compression
garments to aid in the effect of the joint and muscle pumps.
Meticulous Skin and Nail Care – The
skin is very susceptible to infections and is usually dry, so please consult
your physician if any infections or fungus are present prior to consultation.
Typical courses of treatment include
4-5 weekly visits, with sessions lasting approximately one hour. This time
will be spent implementing MLD, bandaging the involved extremity or extremities,
completing an individualized exercise program, and education related to
self-wrapping, MLD, and skin care.
Near the end of treatment, the patient
will be fitted for a compression garment, to be worn independently and
Prior to discharge, all patients
will demonstrate independence in self-care including MLD, wrapping, exercise
and skin care.
Utilization of other components of
our state-of-the-art physical therapy clinic may also prove appropriate
and valuable to the patient.
Please be aware that you will need
a prescription from your doctor to receive CDT.
If you have any questions or think
you may have Lymphedema, please call us at 340-8585 to receive an informational
booklet or to speak with our therapist.