- Lymphedema is swelling that occurs in any body area, but typically the extremities and is categorized as either a primary (no known cause) or a secondary lymphedema. Secondary lymphedema is caused by trauma or insult specifically to the lymphatic vessel system. This commonly occurs after surgery or radiation where the lymph nodes have been directly affected.
- Typically the lymph vessel system regulates and removes excessive fluid including waste products from the body. It returns a percentage of the fluid back to the blood stream. If the lymph vessels are disrupted, than a back up of fluid occurs, creating lymphedema.
- Lymphedema can cause pain, mobility restrictions, feelings of tightness or burning in the area, infection and thickening of the skin. A significant increase in the girth of the affected area will often occur as the condition progresses.
Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT)
CDT is a combination treatment for lymphedema. It includes:
- A distinct massage technique that requires certified training to provide improved function of the lymphatic system to regulate body fluid. This technique can also encourage the use of alternate pathways to manage fluid when pre-existing pathways have been disrupted.
- Use of special bandages/garments to manage swelling.
- Teaching self-massage, skin care, use of bandages, and understanding the condition.
- Using appropriate exercise to fit an individuals needs.
- With a certified CDT therapist’s help, the signs and symptoms of lymphedema can be managed well so that an individual with the diagnosis can live an active lifestyle.