Lymphedema occurs when a blockage in your lymphatic system leads to the accumulation of lymph fluid in your soft tissues. Although lymphedema can affect your shoulders and chest, it usually causes uncomfortable swelling in your limbs. At Fyzical PT Center in Plantation, Florida, physical therapist and certified lymphatic expert Dr. Emily Rade specializes in reducing, controlling, and preventing lymphedema without surgery. To learn more, call the office today or schedule an appointment online any time.
Your lymphatic system collects protein-rich lymph fluid from your soft tissues, filters it through your lymph nodes, and carries it back to your bloodstream. If your lymph nodes are impaired by some type of tissue damage or obstruction, the lymph fluid simply starts to collect in your soft tissues, which can eventually lead to uncomfortable swelling that makes everyday tasks more difficult.
There are two main types of lymphedema, both of which typically affect the soft tissues of your arms or legs:
This condition is the result of the faulty development of lymph nodes and/or blood vessels. The disorder, which mainly affects women, may cause symptoms to appear shortly after birth or much later in life. Primary lymphedema usually affects the legs.
This type of lymphedema can result from the surgical removal of lymph nodes or chronic overload of the lymphatic system. It can be caused by recurrent skin infections, obesity, or ongoing blood vessel problems; it’s also a common side effect of radiation treatment for cancer.
Most of the symptoms associated with lymphedema only occur in the affected area. Swelling, either in part of your limb or throughout it, is a tell-tale sign of the problem. Swelling may be mild and hardly noticeable, or so severe it becomes difficult to move. Other common symptoms include:
Because lymphedema is a chronic condition and damage to your lymphatic system can’t be reversed or repaired, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible so that treatment can begin. Untreated lymphedema can lead to permanent skin changes, recurrent skin infections, and impaired mobility.
The main goal of lymphedema care is to reduce swelling and control discomfort or pain. Dr. Rade uses a variety of effective and noninvasive treatment approaches, including:
A light exercise program that’s specifically designed to encourage fluid drainage can help reduce swelling, alleviate pain, improve mobility, and restore functionality.
Wearing stockings or sleeves made to compress your limbs can help promote lymph fluid drainage. These custom-fitted garments should be worn whenever you exercise the affected limb.
Dr. Rade performs manual lymph drainage to encourage lymph fluid movement and reduce pooling.
After lymph fluid has been moved out of a limb, Dr. Rade uses multilayer bandaging techniques to wrap the entire limb and prevent the area from refilling with fluids.
If you have lymphedema and you’re ready to find relief, call Fyzical PT Center or schedule an appointment online today.