If you have been diagnosed with lymphedema, we can help. Call (319) 226-8560 in Waterloo or (319) 222-2901 in Cedar Falls to schedule your first therapy appointment.
What causes lymphedema?
Primary lymphedema is caused by a malformation of the lymphatic system, which is typically hereditary. If your sibling, parent, grandparent or other family member also has difficulty with swelling, you may fit into this category.
Secondary lymphedema has multiple causes. In the United States, cancer treatment or venous insufficiency are the most common causes. Cancer treatment such as lymph node removal for biopsy or radiation disrupts the lymphatic system, decreases its efficiency and can lead to a backup of fluid downstream. Venous insufficiency is the pooling of blood, usually in the legs, which puts strain on the lymphatic system and must work harder. When the system works at a high level for a long time, it will start to cause damage to the fragile lymphatic vessels and cause an increase of fluid and proteins in the extremities.
How can we treat it?
Lymphedema is primarily treated with complete decongestive therapy (CDT). CDT consists of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), compression garments or bandaging and exercise. MLD is a superficial massage to stretch and pull the skin to stimulate lymphatic vessels.
Compression bandages and garments support the lymphatic system and maintain fluid movement out of the extremities. Participating in exercise while wearing compression helps the body move more fluid out of the extremities. To effectively move fluid and maintain a decrease in edema, all three parts of treatment are important.
How will therapy help you?
The goal of therapy is to assist the patient with edema reduction and then provide training and resources to independently maintain the edema reduction. Your therapist will teach you or a support person how to complete manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), how to bandage your extermity, assist with purchasing appropriate compression garments and provide exercise recommendations.
Is treatment covered by insurance?
Physical therapy appointments follow individual insurance guidelines. Some insurances require co-pay or other percentage of payment. However, most insurance carriers do not cover the cost of bandages or compression garments. Please contact your insurance company for more information.