Franciscan Health lymphedema services are nationally certified by the Lymphology Association of North America, which promotes education and research, establishing universal standards for lymphedema treatments.
Lymphedema is a progressive disease that causes swelling in your legs, arms, groin or stomach. Without treatment, the swelling, known as lymphedema, may continue to increase.
The lymphatic system works much like your veins in that it removes used products from the tissues and carries them to the large blood vessels toward the heart. The waste products are then removed by the kidneys and liver. Lymphedema occurs when the lymphatic system is not functioning properly due to a defect in the lymph vessels present at birth or from damage to the lymph system from surgery, chronic venous insufficiency, radiation, trauma or chronic inflammation or infection. Swelling occurs from fluid buildup in the lymphatic system.
Lymphedema treatment can be provided by a trained physical therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapy assistant or occupational therapy assistant, and it consists of:
The massage, exercise and compression bandaging aids the lymphatic system by moving the fluid towards areas with healthy lymphatics and preventing the fluid from returning to the involved area. The goals of treatment are to reduce the size of the involved area and to teach patients and their families how to maintain the reduced size with the use of long-term compressive devices.
Not all people will develop lymphedema after surgery or cancer treatment. But if lymphedema does occur, it can be managed effectively with proper care and treatment. Our lymphedema therapists can help you understand: