Lymphedema is the swelling of any body part that results from a build-up of fluid due to insufficiency, blockage or removal of lymph vessels. Symptoms include an enlarged body part and/or injuries that heal slowly. With lymphedema, infections are more likely to occur and the condition can worsen over time.
Lymphedema can occur after an injury or surgery, with certain cancers, after a stroke, during and after radiation therapy, from a birth defect, and with altered circulation.
Treatment of Lymphedema
The Lymphedema Program at Mt. Ascutney Hospital offers patients treatment to reduce or eliminate swelling and improve function. Mt. Ascutney Hospital has therapists trained in the Vodder method of Manual Lymph Drainage and Combined Decongestive Therapy, a special therapeutic massage technique used to treat swelling associated with lymphedema.
The massage is performed in a gentle, rhythmic, precise and sequential manner. Following the manual treatment, compression bandages or garments are often applied to prevent further swelling.
Lymphedema treatment is covered under most insurance plans with a physician’s referral. The cost of the compression garments are not always covered, but there are some less expensive alternatives and some funding options to explore if compression garments are recommended by the treating therapist.
Lymphedema treatment is not for people who have congestive heart failure that is not managed by medications, for swelling due to congestive heart failure, or who have untreated infections.
A physician’s referral must be obtained prior to receiving treatment. Treatments are scheduled to suit your needs, often 3 to 5 times a week for the first few weeks, followed by once a week for 2 to 3 weeks. Treatment for lymphedema is provided in inpatient or outpatient therapies.