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Thoughts From… a Certified Lymphedema Therapist

Thoughts From… a Certified Lymphedema Therapist

Many patients are not aware of the problems that accompany lymphedema or how common the condition truly is. Lymphedema is most often found in those who have undergone cancer treatment, for example, surgery and radiation treatment for breast cancer. To better explain the condition, Excela Health’s certified lymphedema therapist, Andrea Shafran PT, MPT, WCS, CLT-LANA, speaks on symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an abnormal accumulation of fluid around the cells in your body, and it can occur anywhere but mostly is in the legs, arms, and neck.

What are the symptoms of lymphedema?

With lymphedema, first, you notice swelling. But even before that, you will find a heaviness or achiness in the limbs, and you may find it more difficult to do the activities that you normally do at home because of it.

What causes lymphedema?

Lymphedema has many causes. The first is cancer treatment. It can also be caused by cardiovascular insult such as leaking veins, something such as a car accident can also cause lymphedema or any kind of surgery where the lymph nodes might be involved.

How is lymphedema treated?

The gold standard treatment for lymphedema is complete decongestive therapy, which consists of two phases. The first phase is designed to reduce the swelling of the limb. This phase includes manual lymphatic drainage massage, compression bandaging, exercise, skin and nail care as well as education in how to self-manage. The second phase of complete decongestive therapy involves more self-maintenance. So the patient would be able to do the self-massage on their own, wear a compression garment for their compression, perform exercises and then maintain all of the education that they learned such as being able to take care of their skin and nails.

Who would manage the care of this treatment?

This treatment can be performed by a physical therapist or occupational therapist who has special training in Lymphedema.

To schedule your appointment call 1-877-771-1234 or click here.

Andrea Shafran
Andrea Shafran, PT, MPT, WCS, CLT-LANA
Excela Health physical therapist and certified lymphedema therapist