What is lymphedema? It is swelling of the soft tissue caused by a mechanical insufficiency of the lymphatic system, that is, the system is damaged and unable to absorb the normal lymphatic load. (Vodder)
There is Primary and Secondary lymphedema. Primary has no known cause, the person is born with it and it may present at infancy, puberty, pregnancy or menopause. There are many syndromes as well that are associated with Primary LE. Secondary LE has a known cause, we would see swelling often after lymph node removal for cancer surgery but it can also be caused by other surgeries, injuries, infections, burns and trauma. There is no cure for lymphedema, only management.
If lymph nodes have been removed there may not be any noticeable swelling because the system is currently able to handle the normal load but the potential for formation of lymphedema is there for life. Education is given to the client on prevention of lymphedema in such cases.
Lymphedema can be successfully managed with CDT, Combined Decongestive Therapy. This includes skin care management, MLD, manual lymph drainage, compression and exercises, this requires special training on behalf of the therapist. Laura Dear, RMT has successfully completed her CDT training through the Vodder Academy in 2021.
The initial visit/ assessment is 75 minutes. It consists of review and elaboration of the health history, assessment of the affected structures, measurements of the limb if required, and education for the client on lymphedema and the reasons for why we do what we do. Then there is development and discussion of a treatment plan to which the client would need to consider and consent to as well as any indications for the need for compression in the form of bandaging or/ or garments. In some cases there could be time for some treatment during that initial visit if there is time.
Manual lymph drainage, MLD, is hands on light, alternating, repetitive techniques that enhance lymph flow, fills lymph vessels, softens fibrosis. The length of the treatment depends on the individual pathology and is discussed in the treatment plan. Along with the management of lymphedema. lipedema and venous insufficiency, it is useful in reduction of swelling associated with pre and post surgery and joint replacements, burns traumatic injuries and it can help treat the symptoms of sinusitis and many other conditions.
MLD and CDT is also used in the assessment and management of Lipedema and venous insufficiency.
Please call Laura at 902.892.7334 if you have questions or would like to book an assessment/ appointment.