What is Lymphedema?

 Lymphedema is a relatively common condition.  It has serious and life long affects for the person who experiences it and for the families of the individual  affected.

 "LYMPH" is a thin, watery fluid that contains fats, proteins, white blood cells and other substances.  It flows throughout the human body.  

"EDEMA" (swelling) occurs if iymph accumulates abnormally in a body part or organ.

"LYMPHEDEMA" (the two words combined to describe a medical condition) is progressive and gets worse if left untreated.  Lymph is transported in a collection system  called the lymphatics. It is often thought of as the major portion of our immune system. As lymph accumulates additional stress is placed on an already compromised lymphatic system.  The body cannot cleanse itself when  lymph flow is so restricted that sluggish lymph flow leads to further inflammation and pain. This accumulated fluid is unsightly and causes deformaties which are hard to hide. It can deter fat metabolization and cause other medical problems:

 A physician will  diagnosis lymphedema. 

 If lymphedema is classified as primary there is a congenital or hereditary abnormality of  lymph flow in the body. 

If lymphedema is classified as secondary then a known trauma to the lymphatic system has occured.  Lymph often cannot move freely after the removal of lymph nodes, radiation, other surgeries, infection, immobility, chronic venous insufficiencies (heart and circulatory problems), burns and/or trauma.

 

 

Currently lymphedema management consist of two phases.  Certified Lymphedema Therapist are trained to assess and manage the changes to your body caused by this disorder.

The FIRST PHASE is the most intensive.  Treatment is usually of 2 to 3 weeks duration for upper extremities and 3 to 6 weeks for the lower body. You will have therapy 5 days a week.  Measurements are taken of the edematous body parts to record the progression of therapy. Hands on therapy begins to move lymph fluid within the first or second session.  It teaches you awareness of your body as it is.

Treatment protocol is always individually tailored to the need that exists. With extreme cases the intensive decongestion phase may last more than six weeks and may have to be repeated several times.

THE SECOND PHASE is a transition from therapeutic lymph drainage to self  managed manual lymph drainage and complete decongestive therapy.  

''MLD/CDT"

MLD (Manual Lymph Drainage) is hands (manual) on lymphatic (lymph collector pathways and lymph nodes) to (decongest)  remove fluid congestion from sluggish or severed nodes

CDT (Complete Decongestive Therapy) is the use of/and consistent wearing of compression clothing and/or short stretch bandages to maintain and complete support of decongested lymphatic fluid in the body.

 

 

Yes! Self Care brings a life long commitment to being responsible for maintaining the results achieved in phase 1 and 2.

It saves you money if you learn to wear compression garments and  know how to keep them serviceable;  Being able to self  bandage when necessary; exercising in an appropriate way is also money wise and health saving.   It takes commitment to learn and study about lymphedema and lymphedema products, to return for follow-up decongestive therapy at the necessary intervals: Often for years or months if necessary to learn the maintenance of your body's lymphatics.  It means involving family and care givers so that they may assist in managing the life long consequences of lymphedema.   It is a full time job but there are many rewards to well managed self care. 

Insurance is not going to cover your expenses.  It is going to be a challenge. I understand these financial pressures are unexpected and life long. I do not bill insurance.  I am a private pay provider and charge $80/ per session. I love what I do and am honored to work with the patients and clients who have come to my clinic..