Lymphedema is swelling in one or more arms or legs and is caused by fluid just below the skin. Congenital malformations, cancer and other illnesses, traumatic injuries and surgery can lead to lymphedema.
If left untreated, lymphedema tends to get worse over time. In advanced cases, skin problems, infections, and loss of function in the extremity can happen.
A therapist who has had advanced training in the management of lymphedema will work with you to develop an individual program based on your medical history, needs and goals. The primary treatment for lymphedema is the use of compression bandaging. You will learn how to apply your own bandaging in therapy. Specialized lymphedema massage and exercise are also important to improving your condition, and will be part of both therapy and at-home treatments.
Lymphedema cannot be cured and will require life-long management. In most cases, bandaging can be replaced by stockings or a sleeve that you will continue to wear. You will be ready to manage your condition on your own when you have learned how to use compression, exercise and home programs to prevent the return of swelling in the extremity.
For more information about Memorial's Lymphadema services, call 217-862-0400 or email us.