Lymphedema Clinic

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid that causes swelling of some part of the body, usually in the arms and/or legs. It may affect the chest, neck or back. It occurs when the lymphatic system is impaired, blocked or damaged and flow is interrupted. When that happens, the lymphocytes, cells of the immune system which are vital in fighting bacteria, cannot circulate normally and the limb becomes more susceptible to infection. If left untreated, it can become disabling and at the very worst, progress to angiosarcoma.

Types and Causes

Primary Lymphedema can occur without any obvious cause. It may be present at birth, occur later in life, or develop after age 35. The cause appears to be due to some physical defect in the lymphatic vessels or nodes.

Secondary Lymphedema, the most common type, can develop as a result of:

  • Surgery for malignancies
  • Radiation
  • Removal of lymph nodes
  • Infection or trauma

Secondary lymphedema can develop immediately, post-operatively, or weeks, months, even years later. Lymphedema is unpredictable and usually develops slowly over time.

Treatment Plan

Lymphedema is a life-long condition, but with early identification and proper intervention, the condition can be treated. Presently, the most effective and least invasive approach recommended by physicians is Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). The goal of our program is not only to provide treatment, but also to teach you how you can manage your symptoms at home.

The treatment consists of four basic steps:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage (a gentle manual technique) stimulates collateral lymphatic channels and re-routes the flow of lymphatic fluid.
  • Bandaging facilitates lymph flow and prevents refilling of the limb between treatment sessions, while encouraging the skin to reshape to a smaller size.
  • Individualized exercise program (with compression bandaging or compression garment) can enhance lymphatic drainage and also restore strength, flexibility, endurance and function.
  • Patient education in skin care and hygiene to prevent infection, precautions, risk factors and self-care.

Helpful Links

Lymphedema Community

National Lymphedema Network

Lymph Notes

Lymphedema Products

Contact Us

Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy & Speech Therapy
6283 Clark Road, Suite 1
Paradise, CA 95969
Phone: (530) 872-2003
Fax: (530) 877-8353

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