Types of Treatment
Lymphedema treatment at ProActive Physical Therapy Specialists is provided by expert physical therapists in an outpatient setting. Treatments are designed to reduce pain, swelling, and other symptoms through a combination of special therapies and exercises. The earlier lymphedema is treated, the better the results.
What is Lymphedema?
The lymphatic system collects excess fluid, proteins, and other substances (or “lymph”) from the body tissues and carries them back to the bloodstream through the lymph nodes. Swelling, or “edema,” may occur when the lymph increases in the body tissues.
Lymphedema is a painful condition resulting in persistent swelling of an arm or leg due to a blockage in your lymphatic system, It can be a hereditary condition, but it’s most commonly the result of blockages caused by infection, cancer, and scar tissue from radiation therapy or the surgical removal of lymph nodes.
Many people who are actively going through cancer treatment, or who have in the past, have not been offered the option of seeing a physical therapist. Schedule a visit today to understand how lymphedema treatment at ProActive can help you find relief and live life to the fullest.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of lymphedema can include:
- Swelling in the arms, legs, shoulders, hands, fingers, or chest
- Aching or a feeling of heaviness in your arm or leg
- Weakness in your arm or leg
- Joint pain
- Inability to move joints as freely as usual
- Skin that feels tighter, harder, or thicker than normal in the affected area
- Indentations made by pressing a finger on the skin that take time to “fill in” after the pressure is removed, or “pitting”
If you’ve noticed these conditions, contact your physical therapist. They’ll review your medical history and medications and perform a thorough examination to see whether or not you are suffering from lymphedema.
What to expect during your Lymphedema treatment at ProActive:
- You will be assessed by an expert physical therapist who is specifically trained in lymphedema therapy.
- Your therapist will evaluate your strength and range of motion and take measurements of your affected and non-affected areas, which will be monitored vigilantly throughout the course of your treatment.
- A customized plan will be created just for you that begins with instruction on how the program works, your specific diagnosis and how to manage and further prevent lymphedema. If swelling is mild, it can often be managed by compression garments, exercise, and elevation of the affected limb to encourage lymph flow. For more severe swelling, your physical therapist may use a number of interventions, including manual lymphatic drainage, which feels like a light form of massage and helps improve the flow of lymph. A session may consist of specialized massage, skin and nail care, compression bandaging, continuing education, and a home exercise program to fit your individual needs.
- Once the limb has decreased to the desired size, your physical therapist will help you begin to manage the affected area on your own through education, an exercise program, and updated compression garments.
Lymphedema, Breast Cancer, and PT:
An estimated one third of women who undergo axillary lymph node dissection during breast cancer treatment develop lymphedema. Physical Therapy after breast cancer reduces lymphedema, ensures better outcomes, and increases the survival rate.
Physical Therapy treatment post-breast cancer can:
- Increase postural endurance
- Improve function
- Decrease risk of lymphedema
- Increase aerobic activity
- Improve shoulder range of motion
- Aid in developing lifelong physical activity program
ProActive will contact your insurance carrier for you during your initial appointment to obtain detailed information about your coverage. Medicare and most insurance companies cover much of the cost of lymphedema treatment.
Ready to reclaim your life? ProActive is here to help.
Here’s what some of our patients had to say
Thank you so much! I love you guys and the care I received!
I recently had knee replacement surgery. I decided to do my physical therapy at ProActive PTS in Verona because it would be convenient. I am so glad I made that decision. Nash made me feel comfortable right away. He is very knowledgeable and has a calm, encouraging manner. I was thrilled with the success with…
Julie and Jessica were invaluable in my breast cancer recovery. After a long recovery from a mastectomy, chemo, radiation, and reconstructive surgery with implants, I still suffered from pain in my ribs below my breast and pain in my breast area from radiation. The Breast Center at UW Hospital was incredible during the implant surgery…
From the first time I met Julie and Jessica, it was clear that concern for my total care was their priority. This included both the physical and mental challenges of breast cancer recovery. Upon learning of their focus on all aspects of this targeted program, I knew I was in the right place and on…
After a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction which required muscle to be removed from my back and brought to my chest, I didn’t want anyone touching me. My chest felt weird, I was in a lot of pain, and I was tired of doctor appointments. But I also felt very weak and knew I needed…
We rate Proactive PTS a 10; we are extremely happy! After having received excellent PT in the past, we had no doubt this was the only place we would trust with our son’s recovery. The warm, welcoming environment makes it a comfortable place to receive therapy. This puts him at ease allowing for the most…
After just 4 visits…I feel like a brand new person. Before, I could barely walk for 15 minutes without my back screaming in pain. Now I’m zooming through therapy and going on walks at home.
Wonderful staff, very helpful, competent and professional. They listen to what I say and are working with me to meet my goal.
Amazing service. They have gone out of their way to call and follow up with me while doing my at-home exercises. Highly recommend.
My husband was skeptical of my choice to use physical therapy to treat my back pain instead of medications. After seeing my results from working with the ProActive PTS team, my husband is a believer now too.