What is lymphedema therapy in America?


Quick Answer

Lymphedema treatment in the United States usually focuses on lessening the swelling and pain, Mayo Clinic states. Treatments include lifestyle changes, exercise, compression wraps, massage, bandaging an arm or leg, pneumatic compression and sometimes surgery to remove excess tissue.

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Full Answer

As of 2015, Lymphedema is an incurable condition in which there is a blockage in the lymphatic system that backs up lymph fluid, causing arms and legs to swell and become painful, Mayo Clinic explains. The most common cause of lymphedema is the removal or damage of lymph nodes as a result of cancer treatment.

It is important that lymphedema be treated so that bacterial infections, such as cellulitis, do not put patients at risk for more health problems, Mayo Clinic says. Successful treatment can increase the flow of lymph fluid and help patients manage the pain.

Medical professionals help patients learn how to wrap their arms or legs to encourage better lymph fluid flow, Mayo Clinic reports. Therapists teach patients gentle exercises to contract muscles, which help move the fluid and strengthen the patients' arms and legs. Most patients wear a compression garment while exercising. Sometimes doctors prescribe pneumatic compression, a compression garment that includes an inflation pump that helps get fluid moving.

Manual lymph drainage, a special massage technique, may help some patients, Mayo Clinic says. Severe lymphedema may require surgery to remove tissue.

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