Lymphedema: What is it and How can it be Treated?

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Do you come home from work with swelling in your legs at the end of the day? Have you tried compression stockings for swelling, but find they don’t work or are too difficult to put on? Do you have swelling in your arms since breast cancer? If so, you might have lymphedema. Seeing a Certified Lymphedema Therapist may be the answer for your swelling.

Lymphedema in the leg. Leg is swollen more than double the size of the other leg.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can present at any age, and is characterized by excessive fluid or swelling. It’s most frequently found in the arms or legs, but it can present in any area of the body.

Lymphedema can occur following age related changes in your veins, but it’s most often seen following lymph node removal for cancer treatment. Without treatment, the edema often increases and limits your function. This also makes it hard to fit into your regular clothes. Lymphedema also leads to wounds that are difficult to heal. This increases your chances of severe infections.

Lymphedema in the arm. The affected arm and hand are swollen with fluid and much larger than the normal arm.

What can you do about it?

Lymphedema can be effectively managed through the use of compression garments, specialized exercise, and lymphatic massage. Certified lymphedema therapists (CLT’s), like Kris at Impact Rehab and Wellness, are physical or occupational therapists who have advanced training. They can help move the fluid and develop an easy to use program. Usually this program helps decrease the size of the limb and teaches you how to effectively manage the swelling.

Who would benefit from treatment?

Lymphedema treatment is beneficial for anyone who has swelling that 1) doesn’t go away with elevation, or 2) is there upon waking in the morning. Treatment can help with acute edema, such as edema after a recent surgery. It also helps with chronic edema. With treatment, you can expect: decreased size of the limb, improved skin quality, improved wound healing, less chance of infection, and improved ability with your daily tasks.

Lymphedema services at Impact Rehab & Wellness

Kris Siegenthaler, OTR/L, CHT, CLT is the only certified lymphedema therapist south of Tulsa. Kris uses her knowledge of sewing to create custom compression garments, which help to decrease fluid. She also creates individualized compression systems that work with your specific needs. If you have any questions, or think you may need treatment for lymphedema, give us a call at 918-756-3330.

Kris Siegenthaler, OTR/L, CHT, CLT

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