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Comprehensive Therapy Services

Lymphedema





Lymphedema


The lymphatic system acts as the body’s sewage system, filtering and removing wastes, viruses and bacteria. A part of the circulatory system, a healthy lymphatic system normally transports one to two liters—a little more than one to two quarts—of lymphatic fluid per day. Surgery, radiation, excessive weight gain, chronic venous disease or abnormal lymph system development may cause this fluid to accumulate. The condition, called lymphedema, can lead a range of problems. Lancaster General Health offers a comprehensive program to help patients with lymphedema to manage the systems.


Stages of lymphedema

When untreated, lymphedema is a chronic and progressive condition. It usually affects arms or legs, but can also occur in the face, neck or abdomen.
 

  • Stage 1: Visible, measurable swelling of an arm or leg. Patients may feel discomfort and heaviness in the limb. Elevating the limb should decrease the swelling.
  • Stage 2: Progressive swelling causes skin on the limb or other body part to become fibrotic, thickening like the skin of a grapefruit. Patients may experience decreased range of motion, nerve compression or discomfort.
  • Stage 3: Loss of limb function. The skin continues to become fibrotic, and joint mobility is limited. Cellulitis, a skin infection that can spread to underlying tissues, may occur.

About the program

At LG Health, compassionate therapists with specialized training in lymphedema provide non-invasive, gentle and effective treatment designed to reduce the size of the swollen extremity and to maintain the reduction. The program includes:
 

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage: Gentle massage technique to reroute the lymph fluid and encourage drainage
  • Compression: Short stretch bandaging and/or garments to increase pressure in order to reduce swelling and maintain the size of the limb
  • Skin care: Hygiene to decrease the possibility of infections
  • Exercise: Specific movements performed with wearing compression bandages to increase muscle tone and lymph return

Most important, our therapists educate you about all aspects of lymphedema management, including manual lymph drainage, so you can continue to improve at home and keep your lymphedema under control.


What to expect

The initial evaluation and subsequent treatments may take up to one hour. A typical course of treatment includes three to five weekly sessions for four to six weeks. In general, the earlier the treatment is started, the shorter its duration.


Program admission

Individuals in need of treatment should bear in mind some of the following factors when considering admission to our specialized programs:
 

  • A referral from a qualified physician may be required.
  • Patients should be willing to work with the team to achieve the goals needed for full recovery.

You should check with your insurance carrier to be certain that your treatments will be covered. In many cases HMOs will require some form of pre-certification.


 
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