Lymphedema is the swelling of a body part, caused by too much fluid in the tissue. It occurs most often in an arm or leg but can occur in other body areas such as the face, trunk or genitals. Lymphedema can be caused by injury, scarring, trauma, chronic infections or surgical removal of the lymph nodes. It typically occurs after surgery and/or radiation treatment for cancer (breast cancer is the leading cause). Lymphedema may also be the result of insufficient lymph vessels.
St. Luke's therapy offers long-term control of lymphedema. The program includes:
- Hygiene and skin care to eliminate bacterial or fungal growth which can lead to repeated infection.
- Massage of the lymphatic pathways to manually drain lymph vessels.
- Bandaging and compressions to compensate for diminished tissue pressure.
- Exercises to contract muscles, which pump the fluid out of the limb.
- A home program to encourage self-care following clinical treatment.