Lymphedema is a condition caused by a mechanical insufficiency of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is responsible for elimination of protein, and excess fluid that accumulate in our bodies that the blood circulatory system cannot flush out. People can develop lymphedema as a child without a known cause. This is called “primary lymphedema”. “Secondary lymphedema” is caused by a precipitating event such as after surgery, cancer treatment, or a parasitic infection. Venous insufficiency also makes people susceptible to developing lymphedema.
The most researched and clinically effective treatment for lymphedema is Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), including Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), and the application of short stretch, compression bandages. The appropriate application of compression bandages is essential to reduce the severity of your lymphedema. Kana Arreguin PT, DPT, OCS, CLT-LANA is our lymphedema specialist at Bodywise. She will guide you throughout both the intensive, and maintenance phases of your treatment.
During the intensive phase, you will meet with Kana, one-on-one, in the clinic, several times per week for 1-2 hours. During your first session she will perform a thorough assessment of your effected limb(s), take pre-treatment measurements, check your skin, and nails for any infections, educate you on your specific case of lymphedema, and determine your overall plan of care. On each follow up visit, she will continue to monitor your skin and nails, perform manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), and wrap your arm, or leg with compression bandages.
Throughout your treatment, Kana will continue to monitor the progressive reduction of your lymphedema. Once your lymphedema had reduced, and your limb has stabilized, Kana will take a precise measurement to fit you for a compression garment to wear, instead of the bandages. Additionally, she will work with you to develop an appropriate exercise program, and self care routine to manage your lymphedema at home. You will continue to follow up in the clinic until you are completely comfortable with your maintenance program.
Benefits of Lymphedema treatment:
- Increased efficiency of the remaining lymphatic vessels.
- Reduced size of the effected area.
- Stabilize Lymphedema to manageable state.
- Reduced likelihood of cellulitis.
- Improved health of skin in the effected area
- Increased healing time of wounds in effected area
- Reduced discomfort and feeling of heaviness
- MLD can significantly reduce pain during palliative care for people with cancer