Lymphedema Physical Therapy

Lymphedema Physical Therapy

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Lymphedema is the swelling of limbs, which commonly occurs on the back of hands or legs. It doesn’t usually occur on the face and genitalia. Lymphedema happens due to poor function of lymphatic system or obstruction of lymphatic vessels. When there is an inability to remove lymphatic fluids, due to either genetic insufficiency or damage to the lymphatic system, one suffers from lymphedema.

Lymphedema may be diagnosed by a primary care physician, general surgeon and / or vascular surgeon. A physiotherapist who has received specialized training in Complete Decongestive Therapy for Lymphedema treatment, is the best to be approached if you’re suffering from lymphedema.

Causes of Lymphedema:

  • Congenital (happens usually after birth)
  • Ageing (after completing 50 years of age)
  • Trauma
  • Inflammation
  • Obstruction of lymphatic vessels: After surgery or after irradiation therapy


Signs and Symptoms:

  • Heaviness of the limbs
  • General intolerance
  • Ulcer formation
  • Skin becomes vulnerable to infection


​Physical Therapy for Lymphedema:

The goal is of physiotherapy is to restore function, reduce physical and psychological suffering, and prevent the development of infection. Lymphedema physical therapy consists of massage, manual drainage of the blocked lymphatic fluid, and management of the condition with compression garments. To normalize the size of the affected limb, elevation and treatment with air compression bladders may also be used. The therapy is typically performed by a special physical therapist, initially in a medical facility, and then continued daily by the patient and a caretaker at home.

Goals of Physiotherapy:

  • Decrease swelling
  • Increase strength
  • Increase the range of motion/flexibility
  • Restore function and improve quality of life

Patients undergoing physiotherapy can take several other actions to improve the effects of physical therapy. They should avoid tight clothing, salty and spicy foods. Continued elevation of the affected limb can aid in drainage and relieve pressure from the affected limb. It’s also important to keep the skin dry and clean in order to avoid infection. You can contact our professional physiotherapists in Edmonton, if you or anyone you know is suffering from lymphedema.