Lymphedema is swelling in your limbs and body due to your lymphatic system being obstructed, or blocked. The lymphatic system is a part of the body that collects excess waste, fluid, and proteins from your body’s various tissues and carries that through the bloodstream to lymph nodes. When there is excess lymphatic fluid or a blockage in the lymphatic vessels, edema, or swelling can occur. This can be a result of cancer, lymph node removal, sickness, edema after surgery, and many other ailments. Lymphedema can cause pain, weakness, tightness in the skin, a loss of range of motion, infection, and difficulty in participating in daily activities.
Many studies have shown that physical therapy intervention in the management of lymphedema focuses on limb size reduction, skin care and infection prevention education, independence in life activities and edema management, and tailored exercise programs. These studies have also shown very great and positive outcomes for the patients involved, resulting in large reductions of limb size, little to no symptoms of lymphedema such as pain and infections, and increase in independence and overall health.
This being said, physical therapists who are certified in lymphedema treatment can help you greatly in managing your swelling through gentle lymphatic massage and increase your ability to function. Physical therapists can help to manually clear swelling in your limb or affected areas, educate you on wrapping techniques to minimize swelling and promote lymphatic flow, educate you on wearing compression sleeves, how to position your involved limb(s), and much more. Additionally, PT’s can create a plan of care to increase your fitness and tolerance to exercise, basic bodily strength, and ranges of motion for the edematous area(s). These are necessary to participate in your daily activities as independently as possible without putting unnecessary strain on the affected limbs.
PT’s can teach you how to measure and assess limb girth, or size and educate you on how to assess for skin damage, wounds, and infection in order to prevent further complications. We can provide you with a specifically tailored home exercise program and modifications to your life’s activities that will help you foster a safe environment on your journey to healing and wellness as well.
If you or a loved one are suffering from the symptoms of lymphedema, come by Hohman Rehab and see how we can help you on your journey to wellness!