What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is the swelling of a body part. It mostly affects the arms or the legs. The swelling is caused due to the buildup of lymph fluid. Primary lymphedema can be present at birth. Lymphedema is mostly caused due to surgery that involves removal of lymph nodes. It can be caused by radiation therapy for cancer.
What is the Lymphatic System?
The Lymphatic System is a network of lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels. It helps to produce, transport, concentrate and filter lymph fluid. Lymph fluid is a clear, watery, sometimes faintly yellowish fluid.
How is Lymphedema managed?
Lymphedema is managed through Lymphedema Therapy. There is no cure for lymphedema. Therapy helps to reduce swelling, prevent infections and long hospital stays. With good compliance from patient, therapy will provide symptom relief and promote overall well-being. Lymphedema is a lifelong condition that can be managed with ongoing commitment. Therapy happens in two phases.
- Manual Lymph Drainage –involves gentle massage.
- Compression Bandaging – involves application of layers of bandages after manual lymph drainage.
- Remedial Exercises – involves simple range of motion, strengthening and stretching exercises that are completed after bandaging.
- Meticulous Skin and Nail Care – involves proper washing and moisturizing to prevent infections.
- Instructions in Self-Care– involves training and education for patient or caregiver for management of lymphedema.
- Compression garment – involves use of stockings to maintain gains made in Phase 1
- Continued use of exercises, skin and nail care.
Will I need compression garments?
Yes, after Phase 1 treatment, you will need compression garments to maintain the gains. Your insurance may or may not pay for the garments. Please call your insurance provider and inquire about coverage of lymphedema compression garments.
Does insurance cover lymphedema treatment?
Yes, your insurance will pay for the treatment of lymphedema therapy.
How do I get started?
Obtain a referral from your oncologist or primary care physician for an Occupational Therapy evaluation and treatment of lymphedema. Call us at 603.238.2225 to set up an appointment and we can get you started right away!