What is lymphedema?
The lymphatic system collects lymph (excess fluid, proteins, and other substances) from the body tissues and carries them back to the bloodstream. Lymph is moved slowly through lymphatic vessels and is passed through the lymph nodes. Swelling ("edema") may occur when the lymph increases in the body tissues. Lymphedema occurs when the normal drainage of fluid is disrupted by a blockage or a cut in the lymph nodes in the groin area or the armpit. Lymphedema can be a hereditary condition, but it's most commonly the result of blockages caused by infection, cancer, and scar tissue from radiation therapy or the surgical removal of lymph nodes.
Who is affected by lymphedema?
You're at greater risk for lymphedema if you:
Had surgical removal of lymph nodes in the underarm, groin, or pelvic region
Received radiation therapy to the underarm, groin, pelvic region, or neck
Have scar tissue in the lymphatic ducts, veins, or under the collarbones caused by surgery or radiation therapy
Have cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck, chest, underarm, pelvis, or abdomen
Have tumors in the pelvis, abdomen, or chest that involve or put pressure on the lymphatic vessels and/or the large lymphatic duct thereby blocking lymph drainage
Have inflammation of the arm or leg after surgery Are older
Have an inadequate diet or are overweight, as these conditions may delay recovery from surgery and radiation therapy and may increase the risk for lymphedema.
Our Physical Therapists have completed special training in lymphedema management and have advanced knowledge, experience, and skills that may apply to your injury. Our therapists will teach you how to proactively reduce swelling including necessary skin care regimes to help manage your condition in addition to offering other support services such as exercise and wellness classes to ensure this chronic condition is properly managed.