Lymphatic fluid is the transparent cellular fluid that bathes our internal organs and travels through lymph channels, similar to blood vessels. Normal function of the lymphatic system is to remove waste products from our tissues and transport fat protein and water. Lymphedema occurs when this drainage is disrupted (such as with removal of lymph nodes during mastectomy or lumpectomy procedures). This leads to swelling of the arm or leg. This can occur weeks, months, or even years after surgery. It also may occur following injury or infection.

Stretching Arm
Lymphedema is controllable and treatable by a physical therapist. Common components of a physical therapy program may include:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage to help improve flow of lymph from the affected arm or leg. This is a specialized technique and needs to be performed by a physical therapist who has received specialized training in this area. Physical therapists at Midwest Physical Therapy Services are specially certified to perform manual lymphatic drainage.
  • Compression bandaging following lymphatic drainage and assistance with obtaining pressure garments as necessary.
  • Specialty taping to improve lymphatic drainage in the extremity.
  • Instruction in proper diet to decrease retention of fluids.
  • Instruction in a home exercise program to improve general health and promote movement of fluids.
  • Instruction on activities to be avoided and proper skin care for swollen extremity.
  • Assistance with developing a program for life-long fitness.
If you think you may benefit from physical therapy, contact Midwest Physical Therapy Services, to seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in this area.