Lymphedema

WHAT IS THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM?

The lymphatic system is part of your circulatory system and plays a large roll in your immune system. It is comprised of a network of vessels, lymph nodes, and lymphoid tissue throughout the body that filters excess fluid, bacteria, dead cells, cancer cells, and waste products from your tissues. The lymph nodes destroy the unwanted material from the body and filters the healthy fluid sending it back to your heart for recycling. 

WHAT IS LYMPHEDEMA?

Lymphedema is a protein rich swelling that occurs due to some defect in the lymphatic system. 

 

Types of lymphedema:

PRIMARY - An inherited type of lymphedema. Results from a congenital defect in the lymphatic system. A person can be born with a less then normal amount of lymph nodes or their lymphatic collectors are too small to handle the waste and fluid in the body. Over time this lymphatic system can become over worked and cause the onset lymphedema.

Primary Lymphedema can appear at birth, during puberty or even later on in life. 


SECONDARY - Occurs as a result of permanent damage to the lymphatic system. This damage may be due to:

  • Removal of lymph nodes due to surgical and/or radiological treatment of breast, gynecological, head, neck, prostate, testicular, bladder, and colon cancer.
  • Trauma, injury or accident resulting in blocked/damaged lymph system
  • Infections-interrupt normal lymph pathway function

How do we treat lymphedema?

The most effective treatment of lymphedema to date is Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). This includes Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), compression, skin care, and decongestive exercise.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage(MLD) is administered through a series of strokes applied to the body with intention to stimulate the movement of the lymphatic fluid in order to assist the body in cleansing. It is a very gentle rhythmic technique that cleanses the connective tissue of inflammatory materials and toxins, reduces swelling, enhances the activity of the immune system, reduces pain, and lowers the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Predominantly used as a treatment for lymphedema, MLD offers many health benefits and uses. MLD can also be used as a detoxification treatment and may help decrease the appearance of cellulite, abdominal bloating, and can help reduce post-surgical swelling from orthopedic or cosmetic surgery.

What to expect in your session

  • 45 minutes to 1 hour treatment sessions
  • Hands-on, one-on-one in private treatment rooms
  • MLD, soft tissue mobilization, scar mobilization
  • Compression bandaging and garments
  • Skin care with PH balancing lotions
  • Therapeutic exercises, including range of motion, stretching and strengthening
  • Patient education to maintain decreased edema, posture re-education, body mechanics, skin care

Effects of Manual Lymph Drainage include:

  • Relaxation, analgesic, diuretic
  • Increased performance of lymphatic system
  • Increased lymph production
  • Re-routes fluid from congested area
  • Soften Connective Tissue

 

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