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Complete Lymphedema Therapy

The Lymphedema program at Hendrick Health is located in the outpatient rehabilitation department at the Hendrick Center for Rehabilitation. The staff is focused solely on the treatment of lymphedema and related disorders. The staff member has received certification training in the treatment of this specialized condition with Klose training, as well as the Lymphedema Assocation of North America. With a physician’s referral, an occupational therapist will complete an evaluation to determine an appropriate treatment plan. Some patients may be seen for only one or two sessions, while other patients may need continued treatment for a few months. Each program is individualized, based on patient-specific goals, severity of symptoms and response to therapy.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a chronic, progressive disorder of the lymphatic system which can cause areas of the body to swell. It can occur anywhere in the body, but it usually occurs in the arms or legs.

What causes Lymphedema?

It can be triggered by the removal or radiation of lymph vessels/nodes. It may also occur following surgery or treatment of breast, cervical, prostate, uterine or colon cancer. Some people are born with this disorder. Certain injuries or surgical procedures can also be a cause of lymphedema. Lymphedema can also increase the risk for infection, leading to more complicated medical conditions. Lymphedema is not just a cancer-related diagnosis.

Types of Lymphedema

Primary lymphedema can appear at birth, at the onset of puberty, or during mid-adult years.
Secondary lymphedema can be caused by a surgical dissection of lymph nodes for breast, gynecological, prostate, melanoma or head and neck cancers; radiation therapy; trauma; infections; obesity; or venous insufficiency.

Should Lymphedema be treated?

If left untreated, the swelling can progressively increase, which can lead to other problems such as skin changes, skin breakdown, and infection. This can also lead to loss of motion and strength, which can impair functional independence. If you have been diagnosed with lymphedema or have risk factors for the disorder, it is necessary that you learn about the disease and how to manage it.

Risk Factors

  • Surgery that involves lymph node removal
  • Radiation therapy
  • Physical trauma or multiple orthopedic surgeries over the same site
  • Chronic venous insufficiency
  • Genetic history of swollen limbs
  • Obesity
  • Multiple infections of an extremity
What can therapy do to help?

With early diagnosis and treatment with Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), patients can enjoy productive lives with few complications and restrictions. This is a non-invasive and proven method to reduce lymphedema.

CDT consists of:

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
  • Specialized compression bandages
  • Good skin care
  • Compression garments
  • Patient-specific exercises
  • Self care
  • Education of precautions to help prevent lymphedema