UnityPoint Health - Meriter Lymphedema Therapy

ER - Madison

6 min Average
UnityPoint Health - Madison


Lymphedema is a type of swelling that can occur anywhere in your body. Common locations are arms, legs, breast, or chest due to the buildup of fluid in the tissues. The lymphatic system collects fluid from these tissues and carries it back to the blood stream. When this system gets backed up it creates swelling know as lymphedema. Lymphedema can happen anytime there is a blockage of the lymphatic system. This may happen as a result of an injury, surgery, radiation therapy, and/or infection. This type of swelling is considered "chronic" and requires lifetime maintenance.

Whether you have primary lymphedema or secondary lymphedema that developed from surgery, cancer treatment, or venous insufficiency, your lymphedema therapist will provide a individualized treatment program that is developed with your collaboration. The treatment program will take into consideration the contributing factors of your lymphedema, all other health conditions that may affect your lymphedema, and your current physical activity level.


To set-up an appointment with either a physical therapist or occupational therapist for lymphedema treatment you will need to obtain an therapy referral from your doctor.

Therapy – Central (608) 417-8250
Therapy – West (608) 417-8050
Therapy – Wellness Center (608) 417-6102

On Your First Visit

The therapist will perform an evaluation of your swelling. The therapist will then discuss treatment options and plan of care with you.

To properly evaluate your swelling and skin, please bring or wear the following clothing:

  • For swelling of the arms: A tank top or sleeveless shirt
  • For swelling of the legs: Shorts or pants which easily roll up to your thighs

If you do not have the above clothing the therapist will make accommodations as needed to properly assess your swelling.


Treatment of lymphedema typically includes:

  • Exercise
  • Manual lymphatic drainage
  • Medical compressive bandaging
  • Discharge into a compression garment

Treatment options will be explained in further detail at initial therapy session.

  • Treatment duration varies depending on the severity of swelling and will be discussed further at your first visit.

Patient/Family Education Materials

Watch videos on how to bandage:

Further educational materials will be provided at your initial evaluation.