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Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a chronic condition in which an abnormal accumulation of protein-rich swelling occurs, usually in an arm or leg. It occurs as a result of damage or malfunction within the lymphatic system, commonly after surgery, radiation therapy, or trauma. The condition causes uncomfortable swelling, limited function and a higher risk of infections. There is no cure for lymphedema, however, it can be managed through swelling reduction.

  • Warning Signs of Lymphedema:
  • Heaviness of the extremity
  • Aching in the extremity
  • Tightness or thickening or swelling anywhere down the arm/leg
  • Burning/Tingling sensation running down the arm/leg
  • Inability to wear jewelry, watches, or clothing

  • Who does Lymphedema affect?
  • Roughly 25-33% of patients with breast cancer will develop lymphedema in the arms
  • Anyone that has experienced damage, removal or dysfunction of the lymph nodes
  • Lymphedema symptoms can occur at any time, even years after cancer treatment
  • The Lymphatic system can be damaged with a traumatic injury to the arm or leg

  • Our physical and occupational therapy staff are specially trained to treat and manage lymphedema symptoms:
  • Strength and movement exercises
  • Home activities to reduce swelling
  • Body positioning techniques to increase drainage
  • Supplies and techniques to wrap extremities to decrease swelling
  • Manual lymphatic massage and bandaging/wraps
  • Prevention techniques

Any heaviness, aching, swelling, or other sensations in an extremity should be monitored carefully by health care professionals and promptly addressed by therapists.

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