Physical Therapy for Lymphedema

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Lymphedema is typically experienced as swelling the extremities because of a disruption in the systematic flow of lymphatic fluids. This disruption can cause lymph fluid to build up under the skin and cause further symptoms. The surgical removal of lymph nodes is the most common reason lymphedema occurs, however it can also occur due to a spontaneous blockage in lymph fluid flow. Up to one-fifth of women who have breast cancer or are in remission and have had lymph nodes removed because of breast cancer treatment will eventually will have a disruption in lymph fluid flow that leads to lymphedema. 

Lymphedema can occur across a wide time span, from a few months up to decades after cancer treatment. Studies have found that a key factor in positive outcomes in the treatment of lymphedema include diagnosing lymphedema early on in its development. However, care provided during the latter, persistent phase of the condition can still help with symptoms. Physical therapists are trained in helping individuals with lymphedema manage swelling and achieve health goals.

It is recommended to reach out to your doctor or physical therapist in Port Isabel or Olmito as soon as possible if you experience swelling in any one of your extremities and have received cancer treatment or a condition of the heart, kidney, or liver.

Lymphedema Explained

The lymphatic system of the body is responsible for gathering lymph fluid (composed primarily of residual fluid waste from bodily functions) from tissue and transporting it to the bloodstream for its eventual excretion. The process by which lymph fluid moves through the capillaries and lymph nodes is slow by nature and when a blockage, swelling, or disruption occurs, the lymph fluid builds up. Over time this lymph fluid starts to collect excessively and cause painful symptoms.

The following individuals are at the highest risk of lymphedema:

  • Those who have undergone surgery for the moval of lymph nodes
  • Those who have undergone radiation therapy
  • Those who develop cancer that has spread to lymph nodes through the thoracic area
  • Those who experience inflammation in the extremities after a surgery
  • Older individuals
  • Individuals who are malnourished

The Symptoms of Lymphedema

The most common signs and symptoms of lymphedema include:

  • Swelling in the extremities
  • Tightening, thicker, harder, or more tender skin
  • Weakness in the extremities
  • Immobility at certain extremity joints
  • Joint pain
  • Repetitive infections in the extremities

How can physical therapy help with lymphedema?

A physical therapist can be a crucial component in getting care for lymphedema. For example, at Surge Mobile Physical Therapy, our team would work with you to help manage your swelling and meet your health goals.

Depending on the stage or severity of your lymphedema, a licensed physical therapist will employ a variety of techniques to aid the flow of lymph fluid. These include:

  • The use of compression-wear
  • Exercises
  • Elevating the affected extremities

More serious cases of lymphedema may include:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage
  • Compression bandages
  • Hygiene education with the aim of preventing infections

Port Isabel Physical Therapists

If you are struggling with lymphedema in the Rio Grande Valley, we highly recommend you schedule an evaluation with our team at Surge Mobile Physical Therapy. Our physical therapists will take great care in determining if you would benefit from our care in the interest of getting you back to day-to-day life with minimum impairment. 

Olmito Office Hours

Monday
8:00am - 7:00pm


Tuesday
8:00am - 7:00pm


Wednesday
8:00am - 7:00pm


Thursday
8:00am - 7:00pm


Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm


Saturday
Closed

Port Isabel Office Hours

Monday
8:00am - 5:00pm


Tuesday
8:00am - 5:00pm


Wednesday
8:00am - 5:00pm


Thursday
8:00am - 5:00pm


Friday
8:00am - 5:00pm


Saturday
Closed

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