When lymphedema causes discomfort or difficulty with movement, the specialists at Sentara provide relief. We design personalized treatment plans that relieve swelling and pain.
Lymphedema Therapy: Why Choose Sentara?
Our specialists offer comprehensive care for lymphedema. Program highlights include:
- Clinical expertise: Our certified therapists have extra training in treating and managing lymphedema and its effects on the body. Meet our experts to learn more about how we care for you.
- Proven therapies: We use combined or complex decongestive therapy (CDT), a recognized treatment strategy for managing lymphedema. This treatment helps promote the flow of lymph fluid and reduce swelling.
- Leading-edge facilities: Our aquatic therapy pools help you safely manage lymphedema through exercise.
Complete Decongestive Therapy Treatment for Lymphedema
Lymphedema is swelling that occurs when lymph (fluid that contains white blood cells) builds up in the body. Swelling happens when lymph vessels, which move lymph, become blocked.
Swelling can also occur when there is damage to lymph nodes (glands in the lymph vessels).
Lymphedema can occur in your:
- Limbs (arms or legs)
Our specialists offer comprehensive lymphedema treatment using CDT, which includes:
Evaluation and education
Your treatment begins with an evaluation by a certified lymphedema therapist. We help you understand how to manage this condition. We teach you how to:
- Change and maintain compression bandages
- Do self-massage at home to encourage lymphatic drainage
- Keep your skin clean and moisturized to prevent infection
Manual lymphatic drainage massage
We use a massage technique called manual lymph drainage (MLD) to help lymph vessels function better. During MLD, we stretch the skin lightly to help keep lymph moving around blocked areas so that vessels can drain.
The number of therapy sessions you have depends on your body's tissues and level of swelling. At the beginning of your treatment, expect to come four to five times each week for an hour at a time.
After MLD sessions, our specialists apply bandages that increase pressure on affected tissues. This pressure helps prevent lymph from moving back into an area of the body that is clear.
We also recommend that you wear compression garments, such as stockings or sleeves, after fluid has drained. Wearing these garments helps keep pressure on the tissue to prevent fluid from building up again.
Our therapists design specific exercises to get you moving and help reduce swelling in your body. You may wear compression bandages while doing these exercises to assist with draining fluid.
We may also refer you to our aquatic therapy program. Water supports you and helps you exercise comfortably.
Conditions We Treat With Lymphedema Therapy
Lymphedema can cause discomfort, a feeling of heaviness and an increased risk of infection. You might develop lymphedema after:
- Cancer treatment, such as radiation or surgery on lymph nodes near the cancer site
- Surgery to remove lymph nodes
Lymphedema that occurs after lymph node damage is secondary lymphedema. The condition can develop right away or several years after cancer treatment or other injury.
When the condition occurs with no specific cause, it's called primary lymphedema. Some people are born with lymph system problems, while others develop swelling later.
Benefits of Lymphedema Therapy
Lymphedema therapy helps reduce swelling and discomfort in the affected area. Therapy also helps promote the healthy flow of lymph throughout the body.