Lymphedema is a chronic swelling of an extremity due to permanent obstruction of lymphatic pathways. This leads to inadequate fluid drainage causing the fluid to become stagnant and protein build up can cause inflammation, fibrosis (hardening), infection or cellulites to the affected limb. This can lead to pain, decreased range of motion and decreased independence with self cares.
Lymphedema can be successfully treated by a certified lymphedema therapist. Treatments include:
- Manual lymph drainage (a specific light massage completed by the therapist).
- Medical, low-stretch compression bandaging.
- Fitting of a compression garment to the affected extremity.
- Specific exercises to increase lymph flow.
- Patient education.
To be treated for lymphedema, one must obtain a doctor’s order and be evaluated by an occupational therapist.