What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema refers to swelling that generally occurs in one of your arms or legs. Although lymphedema tends to affect just one arm or leg, sometimes both arms or legs may swell.
It is caused by a blockage in your lymphatic system, an important part of your immune and circulatory systems. The blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and as the fluid builds up, the swelling continues. Lymphedema is a chronic and progressive disease that continues to worsen over time when not treated.
At this time, the most effective and least invasive approach to lymphedema treatment is Complete Decongestive Physiotherapy (CDP). This treatment is administered by a certified therapist with proper training. CDP consists of manual lymph draining, bandaging and compression, skin care, and remedial exercises. CDP is initially administered, following a thorough evaluation, five times per week for a length of time determined by the severity of the lymphedema.
If lymph nodes are surgically removed and/or radiation therapy is received, the risk of developing lymphedema is significant. Lymphedema may occur within a few short weeks after surgery or radiation, or 15 to 20 years after treatment.
We are pleased to offer a pre-operative lymphedema risk assessment program for all patients facing breast cancer surgery. One of our physical therapists will meet with you and take baseline measurements pre-operatively and provide you with educational materials to help you reduce your risk of lymphedema.
If you need treatment for lymphedema, we have certified lymphedema therapists on staff. For more information, please call (561) 263-5775.