Lymphedema is a condition caused by an abnormal accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the body that causes swelling or edema most frequently in the arms and legs.  The most common form of lymphedema in the United States is secondary edema, which is a result of radiation or surgical removal of lymph nodes for the treatment of cancer.

Prairie Rehabilitation has therapists with specialty training in the treatment of lymphedema that are available at multiple outpatient locations. Therapy for lymphedema is a painless, non-invasive therapy that includes 4 basic steps:  Manual lymph drainage, compression therapy, gentle exercise and skin care.

Your therapist will conduct a thorough examination that will include a review of your health history.  This may include a questionnaire asking you to recall any past injuries, surgeries, nature and behavior of your current symptoms and medical diagnoses that may impact your therapy program.  You can expect a physical examination that includes evaluation of your amount of swelling, strength, flexibility, and posture. Your physical or occupational therapist, with your input, will design an individualized plan of care that meets your needs.

A typical therapy plan focuses on education of the processes to be followed during therapy. Treatment may include manual lymphatic drainage, compression, decongestive exercises, and meticulous skin care.  You will be educated on self-treatment for manual lymphatic drainage and compression as well as how to manage your symptoms. Recommendations for compression options will be made following decongestion of lymphedema. Manual lymph drainage is a gentle technique that stimulates the lymph system. Compression increases tissue pressure to prevent re-accumulation of the fluid. Decongestive exercises are performed to increase the effects of the muscles to move the lymph.