Lymphedema Therapy

Lymphedema is a condition caused by a buildup of lymphatic fluid in the arms and legs.

Lymphedema is a condition caused by a build up of lymphatic fluid in the arms and legs. Some individuals may also develop lymphedema in the face, neck, genitals and abdomen. Primary lymphedema may be present at birth however usually develops at puberty or later in life with no known cause. Secondary lymphedema is often the result of radiation therapy, surgery, trauma or scarring that impairs the lymphatic system.

Although lymphedema is a chronic condition, with proper treatment, it can be managed successfully. The Lymphedema Therapy program at Magee is an individualized program which has the goal of reducing edema (swelling) and preventing further progression of the lymphedema.

Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is a safe and non-invasive program that provides positive results for primary and secondary lymphedema. Successful treatment is achieved from the following:

  • Manual Lymph Drainage: This gentle and relaxing hands-on technique helps to cleanse the body of waste and toxins. In addition to relieving lymphedema symptoms, it also helps in promoting healing. During this treatment, the therapist redirects the lymphatic circulation in order to decongest obstructed lymph vessels. Manual Lymph Drainage is a useful treatment for individuals experiencing pain and who have edemas from various causes (including post surgical, dependent limb edema, traumatic edema and from other systemic diseases that cause edema).
  • Compression Bandaging: This treatment is used to prevent the reaccumulation of evacuated lymph fluid. This helps the affected area to maintain its reduced size. Once the limb is fully reduced, an elastic garment can be worn.
  • Exercise: With the bandages in place, each muscle group and joint of the swollen limb is activated. This helps to create a natural pumping effect to facilitate decongestion of the limb.
  • Skin care: As individuals with lymphedema are at high risk for developing an infection, teaching is provided on how to maintain meticulous skin care, hygiene and good nutrition.

In addition to lymphedema, complications from head and neck cancer treatment (e.g. surgery, radiation) can also result in difficulty swallowing, called dysphagia. A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) can evaluate, diagnose, and treat swallowing disorders. An SLP creates a treatment plan to optimize safe swallowing function and determine most appropriate diet for adequate nutrition. 

Lymphedema can be a disfiguring condition which can impact ones daily living leading to psychological distress. With Magee’s Lymphedema Therapy program, patients are provided with therapies, techniques and strategies to help restore and maintain a good quality of life.

This program is available at Magee Riverfront. For additional information including scheduling an appointment please call 215-218-3900.