Comprehensive Lymphedema Treatment
At Central Vermont Medical Center our certified Lymphedema Management Therapists provide comprehensive management and treatment of Lymphedema.
We offer a Comprehensive Lymphedema Treatment program that consists of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), compression bandaging, exercises, skin care, nutritional counseling, compression garments and support. Treatment is given several times a week over a 4 week period, typically reducing swelling in 7 to 10 sessions.
Lymphedema is a chronic and, if left untreated, progressive condition that occurs when the lymph system has been damaged or blocked. The buildup of fluids in soft body tissues causes swelling, typically in the arms or legs. With appropriate intervention, it can be brought under control.
Treatment for Lymphedema
At the time of the initial appointment, it will be explained to the patient the commitment involved in the treatment program. Treatment approaches for Lymphedema involve four step processes carried out 4 to 5 times/week for 4 weeks:
- Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) - a form of massage which stimulates the lymphangions to increase their activity, resulting in decompression and emptying of lymphatic channels
- Compression bandaging
- Remedial exercise
- Skin care
Limb volume reduction usually occurs in 7 to 10 treatments, while the rest of the treatment time is spent opening collateral lymphatic drainage, breaking down fibrotic tissue, scar tissue work, nutrition counseling and patient education. MLD is also very useful in treating a variety of other disorders caused by dysfunction of the lymphatic and circulatory system such as dermatitis, venous stasis ulcers, post-surgery edema, and burns.
At the end of the four-week intensive treatment period, the patient will have been measured for a compression garment, and be expected to wear it daily; be taught self-bandaging for night-time; have a daily exercise regime established; and have scheduled follow-up evaluations at 1-month, 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month increments. Evaluation includes being measured and fit for new compression garments, as they need replacement, usually every 3-6 months.
Precautions to this form of therapy include active cancer (with the exception of palliative care), thrombosis, acute infection (cellulitis), and CHF. These conditions should be discussed with your provider before beginning therapy.