Physical therapist providing rehabilitation service to patient

Lymphedema Therapy

The St. Joseph Health Lymphedema Management team is committed to using both traditional and innovative techniques to bring the best results in the shortest amount of time.

Lymphedema refers to abnormal swelling of a body part, including but not limited to the face, neck, arms, legs, breasts, abdomen and genitalia. In the case of lymphedema, swelling is caused by an under-performing lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system, and when it is hindered, lymph fluid doesn’t drain well and the fluid build-up leads to swelling.

Lymphedema is very common in cancer patients and can be a result of cancer or the treatment of cancer. One example of this is the removal of, or damage to, the lymph nodes due to surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment. Other causes of lymphedema include infection, obesity, venous insufficiency, trauma, as well as recovery from joint replacement and other surgeries.

Lymphedema is a progressive disease which cannot be cured, but can be managed. Lymphedema Management Therapy can help reduce the swelling, aid in prevention of infection, maintain soft tissue integrity, and promote normal mobility of the limb.

Our certified lymphedema therapists use a non-invasive program known as Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) to treat lymphedema.

This is a combination treatment that includes:

  • Manual lymph drainage
  • Compression bandaging
  • Meticulous skin and nail care
  • Decongestive exercises
  • Self-care training

We can also assist with obtaining long term day and night compressive garments for new patients, and with re-ordering compression garments for patients familiar with the process.

Getting treatment

Lymphedema therapy program requires a physician referral. We encourage you to share this information with your doctor and discuss if you would benefit from this program. If needed, we can help with getting your doctor’s referral. 

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