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Lymphedema Therapy

What is Lymphedema Therapy?

Certified Lymphedema Therapists (CLT) can provide therapy that includes but is not limited to Preventative Therapy, Complete Decongestive Therapy (which includes manual lymphatic drainage and compression bandaging, education of skincare/infection prevention, along with a personalized exercise plan) and Post Mastectomy Therapy to name a few.

Preventative Therapy

In the early stages, a therapist can intervene to help with the prevention of lymphedema. However, if lymphedema does occur our therapists work to prevent swelling, it often can be managed by techniques that encourage lymph flow such as:

  • Compression garments.
  • Exercise.
  • Elevation of the affected limb.

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At ESSMC our therapists will serve as important members of your health care team. They will work closely with you to design a treatment program to help control the swelling and meet your goals for returning to your activities.

Complete Decongestive Therapy

For more severe swelling, your therapist may use a treatment plan called complete decongestive therapy (CDT) to help reduce swelling and provide relief. This includes:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage, which is a specialized massage to increase movement of lymphatic fluid.
  • A personalized exercise program.
  • Compression bandaging to help reduce your swelling.
  • Educating on maintaining a healthy lifestyle along with skin and nail care to reduce infection.

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Your ESSMC therapist will carefully monitor the size of your affected limb throughout your treatment sessions. Once the size of your swollen area has decreased to the desired measurements, our therapist will then help you begin to take over your own care and will:

  • Develop a safe and sensible personalized exercise program for you to do on your own. This program will help you increase your physical fitness without overly straining your affected arm or leg.
  • Update your compression garments to ensure they fit properly and best meet your needs.
  • Educate you about maintain a healthy lifestyle, along with skin and nail care that can help reduce your risk of infection.

Post Mastectomy Therapy:

After a mastectomy or lumpectomy, patients may experience tightness around the surgical site. The result can be scar adhesion, swelling, and axillary cording which are painful and can restrict range of motion and lead to pain and loss of function. 

People very commonly develop musculoskeletal issues following a mastectomy and reconstruction because it causes considerable disruption to your body’s natural muscle tissue. However, post-mastectomy therapy can play a vital role in reducing this risk.

The Benefits of Therapy Post Mastectomy Includes:
  • Improved shoulder range of motion and strength
  • Improved functional mobility
  • Improved posture
  • Decreased pain and edema at the surgical site
  • Improved sensation at the surgical site

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Our therapists can meet with you before your surgery and continue to treat you while undergoing chemo and radiation treatment as well.

SOURCE: Guide | Physical Therapy Guide to Lymphedema | Choose PT(opens in a new tab)


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