The swelling in lymphedema is caused by an abnormal accumulation of protein and water molecules in the tissue and results from the inability of the lymphatic system to perform one of its basic functions, the removal of water and protein from the tissues of a certain portion of the body. This insufficiency can be caused by developmental abnormalities of the lymphatic system (primary lymphedema), or damage to the lymphatic system such as the removal or radiation of lymph nodes in cancer surgery, or infection of the lymphatic system (secondary lymphedema). Lymphedema is most common in the arms or legs, but can affect other areas.
In order to reduce the swelling it is necessary to re-route the lymph flow – to include excess protein and water molecules – around the blocked area(s) into more centrally located healthy lymph vessels. This goal is achieved by a combination of different treatment modalities, all of which are integral components of CDT (Complete Decongestive Therapy), and include:
- Manual Lymph Drainage
- Compression bandaging and garments
- Therapeutic exercise
- Skin care
Upper extremity lymphedema generally can be treated in 3-4 weeks, and lower extremity lymphedema in 3-6 weeks, 3-5 times per week. We offer Physical Therapists who are Certified Lymphedema Therapists (CLT).
Heart of Lancaster Physical Medicine Department
Karen Gallo, DPT, CLT
Lymphedema Therapy is currently offered at Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center and coming soon to Lancaster Regional Medical Center.