Lymphedema is a medical condition that is characterized by excessive swelling when the lymphatic vessels become blocked. It involves the retention of fluid that collects from the lymphatic blockage. It can make the limbs become extremely puffy and swollen. The most common type of lymphedema affects about 1 out of every 1,000 people in the U.S. to date.
This condition can become very uncomfortable to deal with on a daily basis. That is why treatment can be particularly helpful. Eager to learn more about details about this condition and how physical therapy treatment can improve it? You can keep reading.
What are the symptoms of lymphedema?
There are many types of distinguishable symptoms associated with lymphedema. You can learn more about each of the most common symptoms below and determine if these symptoms are similar to the ones you may be experiencing:
- Swelling in your arms or legs — One of the first symptoms of lymphedema that people often notice is swelling in the limbs. It can occur anywhere the lymph nodes are located, like the neck, underarms and genitals, but the most common areas of swelling are in the limbs. This swelling often becomes noticeable to others and may become extra visible if one leg is affected and not the other. Lymphedema swelling can worsen over time, especially if left untreated.
- Tightness in the skin — People who have swelling from lymphedema will often report feeling tightness in their skin. The swelling may cause the skin to stretch or expand, which can cause this feeling.
- Discoloration and warmth of the skin — Some people experience skin redness and their affected limb may be warm or hot to the touch.
- Clothing and jewelry feeling too tight — People who have lymphedema will often say that their clothes and jewelry will feel like they don’t fit anymore. The swelling can make necklaces, rings, bracelets, pants and long-sleeved shirts feel like they’ve become too small.
What are the causes of lymphedema?
There are a few possible sources that can cause someone to develop this condition. The most common causes of lymphedema include:
- Tissue damage from a traumatic injury.
- Chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer.
- Surgical procedures to treat cancer.
- Too little physical movement or activity.
- Being overweight.
How can physical therapy benefit someone with lymphedema?
Physical therapy can be very effective for treating lymphedema symptoms. Ultimately PT is capable of improving comfort and functionality in the limbs among many other things. During PT sessions, a specialist will exercise your limbs and manually manipulate the fluid through the affected areas. They’ll also provide you with devices you can use at home, like compression sleeves, to help prevent fluid buildup in between sessions. Here are some of the key benefits that patients receive during lymphedema therapy:
- Relieving areas with excessive pooling — Physical therapists can be useful to lymphedema patients because they can help reduce swelling and fluid pooling in affected areas of the body. A therapist can use exercise and manual manipulation to move the fluid away from the blockage and encourage drainage.
- Preventing pooling from occurring again — Another way that lymphedema physical therapy can be effective is because it can help prevent pooling in between sessions. When a physical therapist relieves areas of pooling, they’re also essentially helping to prevent pooling from becoming worse and happening again in the future.
- Learning how to prevent skin infection — Physical therapists often teach their lymphedema therapy patients how they can keep their skin clean and other hygienic practices to reduce the risk of developing harmful skin infections.
- Learning how to prevent swelling at home — Patients undergoing lymphedema therapy can learn from their physical therapist how to prevent swelling at home, like wearing compression sleeves, manually moving the fluid out of their limb, and keeping active.
Lattimore PT can provide high-quality physical therapy treatment to lymphedema patients
Lattimore Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation Network started in 1992. John and Cindy Shuman, husband and wife, first launched their own physical therapy practice intending to improve the quality of life of each community member. Since 1992, Lattimore PT has opened dozens of different locations across New York.
Our team of talented physical therapists across the state is dedicated to understanding the best treatment for you. We specialize in taking a “hands-on,” interactive approach with each of our patients to provide them with the best care possible. The ultimate mark of success is a patient who feels positively impacted by our work. Are you ready to experience “the Lattimore way”?
Our Lattimore PT team can provide productive and professional treatment to those who are struggling to manage their lymphedema. We’re licensed physical therapists who can provide effective treatment to patients with lymphedema and a variety of other conditions. Our team works hard to make sure that you’re getting the treatment you need to improve your condition. At Lattimore PT, you aren’t just another diagnosis. Every patient deserves help. Let us be the ones to help you.
Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.