A condition characterized by excess lymph fluid retention, lymphedema afflicts millions of Americans. Greater than 10,000,000 in the US are living with lymphedema with over 1,000,000 patients diagnosed each year. For those who suffer from the condition, it’s crucial to receive care from a properly trained and certified lymphedema therapist.
When appropriate treatment and management is lacking, lymphedema can lead to severe complications, including long-term tissue damage, potentially life threatening infection, and a loss of function in affected limbs.
What is Lymphedema?
The lymphatic system consists of lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels and works closely with the circulatory system. Lymph nodes are structures throughout the body that help to filter and drain potentially harmful fluids from the body, including bacteria and waste.
Lymphedema can result when these lymph nodes are compromised. The condition most often occurs when the lymph nodes are damaged as a result of cancer or removed during the course of its treatment. This can lead to fluid buildup and swelling in the arms or legs, though other areas of the body may be impacted as well such as the head and neck and genitalia.
Other conditions that might result in lymphedema or lymphatic dysfunction include surgery, infections, blood clots, chronic venous insufficiency and genetic abnormalities of the lymph system.
Treatment & Management
There is no cure for lymphedema, but proper management can diminish its symptoms. Possible treatments include the use of compression bandages/garments to control swelling and disperse excess fluid, compression devices that effectively drain affected regions, exercise, lifestyle changes and manual lymphatic drainage to redirect fluid.
Watson Clinic’s team of over 200 physicians can provide easy referrals to any member of our lymphedema team when appropriate.
Our lymphedema therapist recently received an advanced certification in lymphedema management and is certified by the Lymphology Association of North America (LANA), which testifies to the quality and consistency of the services provided.