Lymphedema is a progressive disease in which excess fluid collects in the tissues and causes swelling. This happens because of the lymphatic system (a network of tubes (lymph vessels) and pea-shaped cells (lymph nodes)) has been damaged and can no longer drain excess fluid from the affected part of the body.
Damage can occur from radiation or surgery and result in chronic swelling anywhere in the body. Also, tissue hardening may occur as a result of swelling remaining in the tissue for long periods of time. Lymphedema risk increases with recurring infections in the involved area, being overweight, removal of more lymph nodes and receiving radiation therapy.
Signs and symptoms in the involved area include:
- Tightness of clothing, rings, shoes, jewelry
- Numbness or tingling
- Aching or heaviness
- Pain, fever, warmth or redness may indicate infection and should be reported to your physician immediately
Lymphedema is best treated in the early stages. Your lymphedema therapist at Phoenix will tailor a program to meet your needs and goals. You will be treated using Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). CDT is the approach recommended by the International Society of Lymphology (ISL) including manual lymphatic drainage, compression bandaging, therapeutic lymphedema exercises, compression garments and self-care activities. Lymphedema treatment programs may also include lymphedema massage as recommended by our lymphedema specialist.
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