Lymphedema Management

Treat the fluid build-up of lymphedema and restore lost range of motion with physical therapy for lymphedema.

Physical therapy for lymphedema

Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of fluid (edema) just below the skin. It most often occurs in the arm or leg, but can occur in other parts of the body as well. 

People with lymphedema often have difficulty with everyday tasks due to the size of their limb. Symptoms including heaviness and tightness, heaviness and tightness resulting in limited mobility. Persistent lymphedema can lead to infections.

Physical therapists can help you get lymphedema under control and teach you how to manage the symptoms of lymphedema infections, and limited mobility can be treated with physical therapy. 

Causes of lymphedema

Lymphedema typically arises when lymph vessels are damaged or after lymph nodes are removed (secondary), but can also occur due to hereditary conditions (primary) as well. Secondary lymphedema is the most common cause of lymphedema and may be a side effect of lymph node removal, injury to the lymphatic vessels, radiation, infection, obesity, or a deficiency in the lymphatic system.

Lymphedema symptoms

Patients suffering from lymphedema may experience the following symptoms:

  • Swelling in the arms or legs
  • Skin appears red or puffy
  • Tight or inflexible joints
  • Burning or itching sensation
  • Skin becomes thicker
  • Difficulty walking or completing daily activities

How we treat lymphedema

While lymphedema is not a curable condition, it can be controlled and one can learn how to effectively manage it during daily life. Lymphedema physical therapy will help to reduce the size of the involved limb and the therapist will teach techniques to maintain improvements. Proper management will help reduce the chance of infection, improve wound healing time, and improve overall mobility. Treatment for lymphedema may include:

  • Joint mobilization/manual therapy
  • Proprioceptive/gait training
  • Strengthening/flexibility exercises
  • Home exercise programs
  • Anti-inflammatory modalities
  • Taping
  • Orthotics
  • Education about lifestyle changes
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What to expect

Your first physical therapy appointment is about creating a personalized treatment plan based on your health history, diagnosis, and goals. Here’s what you can expect at your first physical therapy appointment:

Your first appointment will last about an hour. Please arrive 15 minutes early.

If applicable, bring your physician referral or prescription, insurance card, paperwork, ID, and co-payment.

At your appointment, we’ll do an initial evaluation and discuss your care plan.

*Services are not available at every location. Visit our Locations page for more details.