Lymphedema is swelling caused by excess lymphatic fluid collecting in the body’s soft tissue. This can occur anywhere in the body, but it is most common in one or both arms or legs. Cancer, surgeries, radiation treatments and other medical conditions raise the risk for lymphedema.
Mild lymphedema first may be noticed as a feeling of heaviness. Other signs and symptoms of early lymphedema include tightness of clothing, rings, shoes and jewelry. As lymphedema progresses to a more moderate to severe state, the swelling may cause more tissue hardening or more fibrotic tissue.
The immune system can become compromised in the swollen area which can lead to the risk of infection. It is important to monitor the skin for symptoms of warmth or redness which can be an indicator of infection.
Lymphedema is best treated in the early stage. A certified lymphedema therapist will review Phoenix’s Comprehensive Lymphedema Program which include:
- Education regarding the lymphatic system and precautions and skin care.
- Review of home exercise program and in clinic therapeutic exercises.
- Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) to facilitate fluid circulation.
- Manual Lymphatic Massage (MLD).
- Compression Bandaging.
- Compression Garments and home equipment (i.e. sequential compression pump).
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