What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a chronic disorder characterized by persistent swelling in the arms or legs due to blocked lymph channels. Surgery, trauma, infection or radiation therapy can often damage the lymph system. This damage leads to an accumulation of lymphatic fluid, which causes swelling, inflammation and disability.
Lymphedema in the arms is commonly associated with breast cancer following surgical removal or radiation treatment of the lymph nodes. It can occur shortly after insult to the lymph system or many years later. Patients who have undergone treatment for cancer in the pelvis, colon, or lower extremities or who have been through treatment for Hodgkin's disease often suffer from lymphedema in the legs.
There is a Treatment!
Complete Decongestive Therapy is a noninvasive, safe, reliable method that can not only maintain a smaller limb but decreases the incidence of cellulitis.
It consists of 4 basic steps:
- Skin and nail care that may include topical and systemic antimycotic drug treatment so the skin is infection free before treatment is started.
- Manual Lymph Drainage
- Compression Therapy
- Decongestive exercises
A Certified Manual Lymph Drainage Therapist performs the manual lymph drainage followed by compression bandaging, 5 days a week for 2-4 weeks. The goal is to mobilize protein rich fluid and reduce the size of the limb. After volume reduction of the limb, a compression garment is obtained to preserve and maintain the decreased size. With good patient compliance, the volume reduction can not only be maintained but also improved by continuing reduction of fibrosis.
The Lymphedema Clinic of Centra is now offering this treatment for those suffering with lymphedema. As part of the outpatient physical therapy services of Centra, the clinic is presently located in the Virginia Baptist Hospital. Centra also offers a full array of outpatient physical therapy services at Virginia Baptist Hospital.
To schedule an appointment, call 434.200.4668.