Lymphedema is a swelling of the soft tissues resulting from the buildup of lymphatic fluid. Lymphedema can develop in legs, ankles, or feet, or in arms and hands. It may follow surgery or radiation treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment of lymphedema significantly improve the prognosis. Left untreated, the condition can become severe, painful, disfiguring and resistant to treatment.
A collaboration of the Lifespan Cancer Institute and Lifespan Rehabiliation Services, the lymphedema program offers comprehensive treatment for patients with acute or chronic lymphedema, secondary to breast or prostate cancer, chemotherapy, radiation or lymph node dissection, as well as primary lymphedema and venous stasis. Physical and occupational therapists trained in lymphedema management use a "hands-on" approach to treat this condition.
- Compression bandaging and Kinesio taping to help prevent fluid from returning to swollen areas
- Compression garments to maintain reduced limb size
- Compression pump therapy to assist with circulation
- Exercise to keep the joints flexible
- Manual lymphatic massage and/or draining to gently direct fluid away from the impaired lymphatic areas
- Patient education, including information about skin care and home edema management, to help patients understand the cause and appropriate treatment