Lymphedema is a condition characterized by abnormal swelling in the extremities and less often, the torso.
Lymphatic channels transport lymph fluid (fluid and waste materials that collect in the spaces between cells
during normal circulation) from the extremities to the thoracic duct, which in turn drains into the circulatory
system for processing and removal. When the lymphatic channels become obstructed, severed, or otherwise incapacitated from doing their job, lymph fluid collects in the tissues of the extremities and cannot get out. Management of lymphedema is heavily dependent on patients’ willingness to participate fully in their plan of care. Treatment at our Advanced Wound Recovery Program can involve any combination of therapies, including but not limited to the following:
- Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), otherwise known as Complex Decongestive Physiotherapy (CDP), which is a form of massage that stimulates the lymphatic channels and manually moves fluid from the affected extremities. This therapy is administered by a licensed Physical Therapist or Physical Therapy Assistant, under the supervision of the treating physician.
- Pneumatic compression therapy, which involves the use of a pump which is worn in sleeve-like fashion on the affected extremities and is also used to stimulate movement of lymph. Most insurance companies provide coverage for this device (pump and accessories), which is provided by outside vendors and set up in the home.
- Specialized wrapping techniques, which involve wrapping short-stretch bandages around the affected extremity to promote circulation and movement of lymphatic flow.
- Custom-made or properly sized compression garments, which come in a variety of sizes and provide varying levels of compression therapy for ongoing maintenance of lymphedema.