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Signs and symptoms

Lymphedema signs and symptoms, which occur in your affected arm or leg, include:

  • Swelling of part or all of your arm or leg, including fingers or toes
  • A feeling of heaviness or tightness
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Aching or discomfort
  • Recurring infections
  • Hardening and thickening of the skin (fibrosis)

The swelling caused by lymphedema ranges from mild, hardly noticeable changes in the size of your arm or leg to extreme changes that make the limb hard to use. Lymphedema caused by cancer treatment may not occur until months or years after treatment.

Lymphedema Therapy is available in Bucyrus and Galion, through the Avita Wound Centers and outpatient therapy departments. To schedule an appointment call:

Avita Therapy and Sports Medicine, Bucyrus
419-562-1009

 

Galion Outpatient Therapy
419-468-9194

 

Lymphedema

about lymphedema

Lymphedema refers to swelling that generally occurs in one of your arms or legs. Sometimes both arms or both legs swell. There is no cure for lymphedema, however, it can be managed with early diagnosis and diligent care for the affected limb.

causes of Lymphedema

Lymphedema is most commonly caused by the removal of, or damage to, your lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment. The condition can also be inherited or be a result of cellulitis compromising the lymphatic system. It results from a blockage in your lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. The blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and the fluid buildup leads to swelling.

Lymphedema can affect men and women of all ages. The most common type of lymphedema in the United States is secondary lymphedema, which most often occurs as the result of medical treatment, generally for cancer/ radiation therapy, from surgery or trauma or cellulitis.

treatment for Lymphedema

Treatments for lymphedema vary depending on the stage and cause of the condition. Treatments are designed to reduce swelling and discomfort along with contolling other symptoms.  A physical or occupational therapist, with specialized training, will assess the patient and develop an individualized treatment plan. Therapy may include:

  • Specific exercises or a complete exercise program
  • Limitation of certain activities that are vigorous or repetitive
  • Manual lymphatic drainage therapy
  • Complex decongestive therapy

The frequency and duration of care may range from a one-time assessment and education on lymphedema prevention, to 2-5 visits per week for 6 or more weeks, depending on the severity of lymphedema and associated impairment.

Short and long term goals to be met in 4-8 weeks may include:

  • Independence with home exercise program
  • Independence with compression bandaging
  • Independence with self massage techniques
  • Independence with lymphedema prevention and risk factor reduction strategies
  • Reduce limb girth by 25-50%
  • Maximize strength
  • Independence with postural correction in various positions
  • Maximize independence with functional activities

Lymphedema cannot be cured. However, with proper care and treatment, the affected limb can usually be restored to a manageable size and shape. In addition, lymphedema can be managed and controlled so that it does not progress further. Successful treatment of lymphedema requires a long-term commitment from the patient.