Physical Therapy Can Provide Relief For Lymphedema

Lymphedema is categorized as a swelling condition that typically occurs in the upper or lower extremities, due to an excessive buildup of lymph fluid.

Your lymphatic system is part of your circulatory system, and it is a network of vessels that carry lymph fluid towards the heart. The lymphatic system is an essential part of your immune and circulatory systems, so when it is not working properly, lymphedema can occur.

When a blockage happens in your lymphatic system, swelling of your arms or legs typically occurs, as the fluid is not able to drain properly. Improper drainage results in a build-up of the lymph fluid in your arms and legs, which can present possible health risks when it is left untreated. Are parts of your body swollen, tight, or hard to the touch? If so, you might have lymphedema. Luckily, our Glen Cove and Hicksville physical therapists can help! Contact Dynamic Physical Therapy and Rehab Services today and request an appointment; let us help you find the relief you deserve.

Are there types of lymphedema?

There are two categories of lymphedema: primary lymphedema and secondary lymphedema.

Primary Lymphedema

Primary lymphedema occurs on its own or is inherited. The cause of primary lymphedema isn’t always obvious. Your primary care physician may want to take additional imaging tests in order to look at your lymphatic system as well as rule out other possible conditions. These tests may include an MRI scan, CT scan, Doppler ultrasound, or lymphoscintigraphy.

Secondary Lymphedema

Secondary lymphedema occurs as a result of an alternative disease or condition. Oftentimes, secondary lymphedema occurs after treatments for cancer. Lymphedema also can be the result of surgical treatment involving the lymph nodes. It is most common in surgical cancer treatments where the lymph nodes are damaged or removed entirely.

The most common causes of secondary lymphedema include:

  • Surgery
  • Cancer
  • Radiation treatment for cancer
  • Infection

There are also a handful of symptoms that accompany lymphedema that could serve as indicators that you may have developed this condition. It can sometimes take months (or even years) for lymphedema to develop as a result of cancer treatment.

Usually, lymphedema symptoms occur in the arms and legs. Pain levels range from mild (noticing subtle changes or feelings in your limbs) to severe (noticing extreme changes or feelings in your limbs, to the point where they may be difficult to use).

If you have lymphedema, you may be experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Restricted range of motion
  • Heaviness/tightness
  • Infections
  • Swelling 
  • Aching/discomfort
  • Fibrosis

Physical Therapy for lymphedema

When it comes to conditions that involve chronic swelling, there are many risks to worry about. Some of these include circulation issues, infections, and the potential for future injury. It is very important to receive treatment for lymphedema and to follow up with your doctor and physical therapist at Dynamic Physical Therapy and Rehab Services on a routine basis to make sure your condition is not worsening.

At Dynamic Physical Therapy and Rehab Services in Glen Cove and Hicksville, your physical therapist will design a customized treatment plan to treat your specific case of lymphedema. This plan will be dependent upon your physical evaluation, health history, and the severity of your symptoms. For lymphatic treatment plans, the focus will be put strongly on manual therapy and light exercises for pain relief.

One special type of manual therapy referred to as “manual lymph drainage” is commonly used for patients with lymphedema. Manual lymph drainage encourages the flow of lymph fluid in your upper and lower extremities. This might also be accompanied by additional massages to increase circulation and provide relief.

Exercising the affected limb(s) often also encourages lymph fluid drainage. Your exercise plan will be created by one of our Glen Cove and Hicksville physical therapists and will involve gentle contractions of the muscles to regain function and improve your range of motion.

Additional treatments, such as wrapping, compression, or complete decongestive therapy may also be added to your treatment care plan as your Dynamic Physical Therapy and Rehab Services physical therapist deems fit.

If you’re dealing with lymphedema and are searching for relief, your search ends here. Contact our Glen Cove and Hicksville physical therapy office today. Dynamic Physical Therapy and Rehab Services will help reduce your lymphedema symptoms and improve your daily life. Your pain-free movement starts here!

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