What is lymphedema?
This condition is characterized by uncontrolled swelling of a limb due to damage to the lymphatic system. When this occurs, fluid becomes trapped in the tissues. This can result in swelling, fibrosis (hardening of the limb), discomfort, decreased mobility, and an increased risk of infection in the limb.
The role of your lymphatic system
The lymphatic system works with your circulatory system to return excess fluid from the body tissues to the blood for circulation. It also plays an important role in fighting infection and protecting you against illness.
Why lymphedema should be treated
Once you have lymphedema, it affects every part of your life. If left untreated, its damage can cause permanent tissue changes and swelling that is difficult to reduce.
Prevention is the key to decreasing the risk of developing lymphedema. However, if it does occur, our comprehensive lymphedema treatment program can be very effective in reducing swelling, softening the tissues, and teaching you how to control your condition.
Who is appropriate for lymphedema treatment
Those who have swelling due to:
- Cancer treatment involving lymph node removal and/or radiation therapy
- Surgery or a traumatic injury that has disrupted the lymphatic system
- Primary (congenital) lymphedema
Our lymphedema treatment program includes:
- Evaluation to determine your treatment needs.
- Education in skin care, prevention of infection, and precautions to prevent flare-ups.
- Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). This specialized massage re-routes lymphatic fluid around blocked or damaged lymph node sites and increases reabsorption of fluid.
- Multi-layer compression bandaging to maintain your gains achieved during treat- ment sessions, further break down fibrotic tissue, and enhance the effect that your muscles have on pumping fluid out of the swollen areas.
- Self-massage techniques and specialized exercises to enhance lymphatic drainage and improve movement.
- Recommendation for a compression garment to maintain your gains achieved in therapy for long-term lymphedema management.
- Soften tissue and decrease swelling in your involved limb(s).
- Improve the comfort and appearance of your involved limb(s).
- Reduce your susceptibility to infection.
- Increase your ease in performing daily
- Assure your thorough understanding of lymphedema and your ability to manage it independently.
- Improve your quality of life.
Why select Mercyhealth’s program?
Mercyhealth’s occupational therapists have advanced training and certification in evaluating and treating lymphedema.
How to take part in our program
Your doctor’s referral is required to begin therapy. Generally, our services are covered by insurance, including Medicare. However, we suggest you contact your insurance provider to verify coverage.