Health Topics

Lymphedema Therapy

By DMG Physical & Occupational Therapy

Comprehensive Lymphedema Education and Treatment

A diagnosis of lymphedema can be extremely overwhelming. That is why DuPage Medical Group (DMG) has specially trained Physical and Occupational Therapists who understand, and can address functional problems you may be experiencing as a result of your medical treatment. DMG uses therapists certified in Complete Decongestive Therapy for lymphedema treatment to ensure you are getting the highest level of care. 

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a chronic condition marked by a build-up of protein-rich fluid in tissues that causes swelling, most often in your arms or legs. This develops when the lymphatic pathways are unable to circulate the excess lymph fluid due to a disruption of the system. Lymphedema can result from removal of lymph nodes, radiation therapy, trauma, chronic venous insufficiency or congenital conditions.

Lymphedema can be a long-term condition, but there are ways to manage it and preventive measures you can take if you are at risk.

Symptoms

While signs and symptoms may be different for each person, general signs of lymphedema may include:

  • Swelling
  • A full or heavy feeling in areas such as your arm, leg, belly or genitals
  • The skin in the area changes texture, feels tight or hard, or looks red
  • New aching or discomfort
  • Less movement or flexibility
Treatment of Lymphedema

When treated, lymphedema usually is compatible with a normal and active lifestyle. Early diagnosis and treatment of lymphedema offers the best chance for controlling the condition. Treatment times may vary, but therapy generally is scheduled three to five times per week for approximately two to six weeks. As a DMG patient, you will receive a comprehensive evaluation with time to discuss treatment options and goals. You will also have one-on-one follow-up appointments as needed to reach your goals. And once you have completed the program, you will be able to self-manage your lymphedema.

Your therapist will provide personalized treatment based on your needs. Therapy may consist of:

Education
You will be educated about signs and symptoms of lymphedema, as well as skin care to prevent infection.

Exercise
An individualized exercise program to increase lymphatic flow will be developed, and you will be taught how to follow it. 

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)

MLD is a specialized massage like technique,which is performed by your therapist to assist in moving fluid out of the affected area. This will also soften areas of hard tissue.

Compression Bandaging
Application of multi-layered short stretch bandages are applied to provide compression. Bandages help move fluid by increasing pressure to the skin, and contracting muscles against the bandage to help stimulate your lymph vessels.

Compression Garments
After swelling has been treated and decreased as much as possible, a prescription for compression garments may be provided. This garment helps maintain the reduction in swelling achieved during treatment.

Making an Appointment

Together we can help evaluate options and choose appropriate actions to take control of your lymphedema. For more information, or to schedule an appointment* with a certified lymphedema therapist, please call 630-967-2000.

*A physician referral is required to receive lymphedema therapy/treatment.


Topics and Subtopics: Cancer & Physical & Occupational Therapy

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