What is Lymphedema?
Very simply, Lymphedema is the abnormal accumulation of fluid in the tissues, causing swelling of a limb or body part. Lymph is a clear fluid which is made up of water, protein, infection fighting cells and waste products. Normally, this fluid is returned through lymphatic vessels, or the lymph system, to the blood circulatory system (also known as venous circulation).
What is Lymphedema Therapy?
Lymphedema therapy is also known as “Complete Decongestive Therapy.” It is a therapy method that has been used in the United States since the late 1980’s. It originated and was developed in Europe since the 1930’s by a massage therapist and a physician.
Do I need a referral?
Yes, you do need a referral from your physician, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or dentist to receive physical therapy.
What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage?
Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a very light massage technique that facilitates that lymphatic system to pump the protein-rich fluid and overflow of the venous system. It should never hurt or cause bruises. It will not be done over wounds, but can significantly improve how your wound heals.
Do I have to wear a compression garment for my swelling?
The answer depends on the cause of your swelling. It is likely that at least for a short time irregardless of the cause you will need to wear a compression garment.
Do you have anything to help me get my garment on, or make it easier to put on my garment?
Yes. A properly fitting garment with your usage and abilities in mind make life much simpler. A garment that is not properly fit will make it much more difficult if not painful to wearr. There are several different “gadgets” and techniques that we use at United Physical Therapy, LLC that will make it easier to put on your garments.
What causes my swelling?
There are a variety of reasons that result in swelling of body parts. It basically is due to either:
a) Your lymphatic system has an abnormality which does not allow the fluid to return as it normally would. People with this type of Lymphedema are usually born this way, but it can be a result of an injury that has damaged the lymphatic system.
b) Your lymphatic system is normal, but has been overloaded. It can be from an injury such as a fracture, congestive heart failure, venous problems.
Why do my legs weep?
The medical term for the fluid weeping from the legs is called “lymphorrhea.” The significantly high pressure in the tissue causes the fluid to weep because it does not have the ability to move within the body.
Does Lymphedema Therapy help weeping?
Yes. Definitely. Lymphedema therapy can eliminate the weeping with compliance to the prescribed program.
What’s the difference between:
- Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT)
- LANA-Certified Lymphedema Therapist
- Therapist who just treats Lymphedema
A Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT) is a therapist who has been certified in a class of 135 hours of intensive education, training and practice in all aspects of complete decongestive therapy.
A LANA (Lymphology Association of North America) Certified Lymphedema Therapist has completed a combined total of almost 190 hours of training in Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) and Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), as well as two years of hands-on experience treating patients with swelling disorders. Sonnie Blocki, who has earned LANA certification, was also required to pass an intensive qualifying exam sponsored by LANA. This is the highest level of Lymphedema certification available in North America.
A non-certified therapist who practices Lymphedema therapy has not received the intensive 135 hours of intensive education. They may not have been tested for competency or trained extensively in all aspects of complete decongestive therapy.
What can Lymphedema Therapy help?
Lymphedema can reduce swelling from a variety of causes including illness, injury, surgery including cosmetic. Reduction of swelling assists healing. Lymphedema therapy can assist with problems associated with swelling including skin texture, mobility, wound healing, and ability to wear shoes or clothing.
How long will I be coming for Lymphedema Therapy?
Research shows that Lymphedema therapy averages approximately 6 weeks. Skin changes, length of condition, tolerance and compliance to therapy all vary. These affect the duration of treatment.