Lymphedema: What You Need To Know 

At Elizabethtown Community Hospital, we believe in a patient-centered approach. We encourage you to be an active, informed member of your care team. Our team always takes the time to talk to you, explain the next steps and answer any questions you may have. We provide care that is: 

  • Personalized: Your goals direct our care. We work with you to provide the treatment and support you need, so you can control your symptoms and improve your quality of life. 
  • Collaborative: You may also be working with a hematologist or oncologist (cancer specialists). We work closely with your entire health care team, as well as your primary care physician, combining advanced medicine with a sensitive, compassionate touch. 
  • Evidence-Based: As with all our specializations, our treatment techniques are eveidence-based and drawn from broadly accepted research in the field.   
  • Specialized: Our team members, including physicians, occupational and physical therapists, have specialized training and certification in lymphedema care. You can feel confident that your experienced, expert team understands your unique needs and has your best outcome in mind. 

What is Lymphedema? 

Lymphedema is chronic sweling caused by a buildup of fluid that occurs when the lymphatic system is either faulty or damaged.  An estimated 3.5 million Americans suffer from lymphedema including many that are underdiagnosed or undertreated.

Causes of Lymphedema:

  • Lymph node removal for cancer treatment.
  • Injury to lymphatic vessels due to trauma or infection.
  • Venous insufficiency causing overload of lymphatic vessles.
  • Congenital malformation of lymphatics.

It can involve one body part (a leg or an arm) or multiple body parts including your trunk.  Sometimes the swelling can build up slowing or quickly.  While dealing with lymphedema you may experience:

  • Part or parts of your body that feel heavy or hard to move
  • Feeling full or slow
  • Feeling like your skin is stretched
  • Occaisionally you may experience pain

Discuss these symptoms with your physician, who can determine if they are related to lymphedema.

The highly skilled team at UVMHN-Elizbethtown Community Hospital, can help improve and restore your well-being through a rehabilitation program designed for you.

Our team of experts includes: 

  • Physicians
  • Occupational and/or Physical therapist certified in lymphedema care 
  • Experts from other areas of medicine, depending on your specific condition and needs 
  • Your primary care physician and referring physician, who work with us to establish a treatment plan and coordinate follow-up care

Treatment of Lymphedema

The goal of treatment is to control the swelling and other problems caused by lymphedema.  This can be done by lymphatic massages, wrapping, exercises, pneumatic compression devices and compression garments. 

Damage to the lymph system cannot be repaired. Treatment is given to control the swelling caused by lymphedema and keep other problems from developing or getting worse. Physical (non-drug) therapies are the standard treatment. Treatment may be a combination of several of the physical methods. The goal of these treatments is to help patients continue with activities of daily living, to decrease pain, and to improve the ability to move and use the limb (arm or leg) with lymphedema. 

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