Lymphedema Management

From Diagnosis to Relief

Lymphedema is an abnormal swelling or increased size of one limb that occurs after cancer treatment, surgery, or as a complication of other conditions

Lymphedema can be treated through a combination of manual lymphatic drainage, compression, and exercise and managed through lifestyle changes

Treatment and maintenance services, as well as compression garments and alternatives are available

Meet Our Lymphedema Therapist

Elliot Snow

Massage Therapist

LMT, Cert. Lymphedema Therapist

Frequently Asked Questions

At Clarity, our commitment to clarity and personalized care shines through as we address common queries, providing insights into the therapeutic benefits of MLD. Discover the nuances of this specialized technique, explore its applications for overall well-being, and find quick answers to your questions. For further inquiries, our dedicated team stands ready to support you on your path to rejuvenation and vitality.

 

 

 

What Is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a swelling, typically in one limb, that is caused by an increased amount of fluid between cells. Over time, swelling increases, leading to an increased space between cells. This increase in space makes it difficult for cells to efficiently transport nutrients and immune cells to all areas of the body, leading to more frequent infections and slowed healing.

What Are The Causes?

Lymphedema can be called primary or secondary. A person is born with primary lymphedema and swelling can be present at birth or develop later. Secondary lymphedema is more common, and develops after a single significant trauma or a prolonged wear and tear to the lymphatic system. Trauma can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, extensive burns, or significant blunt force trauma. Chronic venous insufficiency, chronic infections, filariasis (parasitic infection), lipedema, and obesity can all have long term effects on the lymphatic system and over time may result in lymphedema.

What Are The Symptoms?

Symptoms of lymphedema vary depending on how far the disease has progressed. In the subclinical Stage 0 there is no visible swelling, but there has been damage to the lymphatic system. In Stage 1, the tissue swells and feels soft, and if pressed into an indentation remains for several seconds to several minutes. The swelling may completely disappear overnight or if the limb is elevated. In Stage 2, swelling increases and the tissue has begun to harden as lymphatic fibrosis develops. Skin texture or color changes are common, as are frequent skin infections. In Stage 3, swelling has greatly increased and hardened fibrosis can be felt throughout the tissue. Skin changes and infections can be seen.

What Is The Treatment?

Treatment for lymphedema is a process called Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) which is facilitated by a certified lymphedema therapist (CLT). CDT consists of four components: 1) manual lymphatic drainage 2) bandaging/compression 3) exercise 4) skin care. There are two phases of treatment: Intensive Phase 1 and Improvement/Maintenance Phase 2.

Phase 1:
-Patient is provided with education on lymphedema and the importance of at-home management through daily compression, self-MLD, exercise, and proper skin care.
-Patient is seen 3-5 days a week for 2-8 weeks depending on the limb(s) and stage of lymphedema
-Treatment consists of MLD, bandaging, exercises, and education; first and last treatments include full limb measurements, partial measurements taken once per week
-Limb and trunk are decongested of excess lymph fluid, only fibrotic tissue remains

Phase 2:
​-Patient is seen 1-4 times per month for MLD and fibrosis treatment
-Patient continues wearing compression garments daily during the day, continues self MLD daily, and continues 10-15 min of exercises twice daily
-Fibrosis is monitored by a CLT and treated through compression, exercise, and manual techniques

How Do I Manage Lymphedema At Home?

After the intensive decongestive phase of complete decongestive therapy at-home management becomes even more important. Compression garments should be worn daily while you are awake, and garments will need to be replaced every 6 months. Self-manual lymphatic drainage should be performed daily to activate the terminus, relevant lymph nodes, and limb drainage. Exercises should also be performed for 10-15 minutes twice per day. It is also recommended to see a certified lymphedema therapist for manual lymphatic drainage and fibrosis treatment 1-4 times per month. All of this will be discussed and explained further during the intensive phase.

Phase 1:
-Patient is provided with education on lymphedema and the importance of at-home management through daily compression, self-MLD, exercise, and proper skin care.
-Patient is seen 3-5 days a week for 2-8 weeks depending on the limb(s) and stage of lymphedema
-Treatment consists of MLD, bandaging, exercises, and education; first and last treatments include full limb measurements, partial measurements taken once per week
-Limb and trunk are decongested of excess lymph fluid, only fibrotic tissue remains

Phase 2:
​-Patient is seen 1-4 times per month for MLD and fibrosis treatment
-Patient continues wearing compression garments daily during the day, continues self MLD daily, and continues 10-15 min of exercises twice daily
-Fibrosis is monitored by a CLT and treated through compression, exercise, and manual techniques

Our Happy Patients

Paul Miller
Paul Miller
November 25, 2023.
Love the atmosphere at Clarity of Western Springs. Entire staff seems dedicated to helping all patients recover. Can't say too much good about my time there. Hope to stay away, but would go back if circumstances dictate a return visit.
CMWren87
CMWren87
September 28, 2023.
You won’t find a more dedicated, knowledgeable, and professional team in the area. Clarity is high in the running for best Physical Therapy practice in the entire Chicagoland area. Thank goodness they’ve expanded!
Charlie Brizz
Charlie Brizz
September 7, 2023.
After my hip surgery, I was facing an expected six months of recovery, but the incredible team here had me back on my feet in half the time. From the moment I walked in, Jay and Katie's laughter immediately put me at ease. The entire staff exudes a sense of family and joy that turns what could be a grueling recovery into an uplifting journey. They don't just treat your body; they uplift your spirit, making the whole recovery process not just bearable but enjoyable. I wholeheartedly recommend Clarity to anyone in need of physical therapy; they're not just good, they're the best, hands down.
Annie Gray
Annie Gray
August 25, 2023.
Cannot more highly recommend Clarity PT. I suffered with low back and glute pain for 2.5 years following pregnancy. Tried everything to no avail. Started seeing Ellen and within a few session of PT and dry needling, my pain was gone. Her knowledge, genuine care, and attention to patients is incredible. My experience with her has honestly been life changing. The clinic in Clarendon Hills is brand new, always so clean, and the entire staff is so friendly. Definitely check them out!
patrick thesien
patrick thesien
August 4, 2023.
Tremendous facility that is laser focused on developing an individual plan to maximize recovery.
Coleen Muldoon
Coleen Muldoon
July 20, 2023.
I had a great experience at Clarity. Staff were very knowledgeable, professional and friendly. I had Don for most of my visits and he was excellent. He really pushed me and always had great advice on what I needed to do to improve. I would highly recommend Clarity and have referred many of my friends and family.
Brian Dunne
Brian Dunne
June 21, 2023.
Great place for rehab!
John Fanone
John Fanone
June 2, 2023.
Very professional and great people who make you feel welcome.
Michelle Robbins
Michelle Robbins
April 28, 2023.
The entire staff is wonderful and Bethany is an amazing therapist. Very educational and even developed exercises specific to my occupational needs.

Questions? We are happy to any questions you may have! Schedule a free screening so we can discuss your problem areas and determine if physical therapy is the right course of action for you.