What is lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a condition/disease defined as the abnormal accumulation of fluid in the tissue causing chronic inflammation, hardening of the skin, and an increase in adipose tissue.
How does it happen?
Damage to the lymphatic system caused by surgery, radiation, or abnormal accumulation of cells in the body, infection, obesity, or genetics
Where can lymphedema occur in the body?
Face, neck, axilla, arms, trunk, genitals, legs, and feet.
What happens if I don’t get treatment?
- Increased risk of cellulitis/infection.
- Loss of overall function in regards to activities of daily living (ADL) and mobility.
When should I seek help?
- As soon as possible.
- Indications of increased edema accumulation
- Pain, decline in mobility and/or ADLs, clothes fitting tighter, unable to get rings on fingers, lines in ankles from socks, feelings of heaviness or discomfort.
- Speak to your primary care provider, oncologist, or surgeon about a referral to QMG’s Certified Lymphedema Therapists.
What should I expect during treatment?
- Certified Lymphedema Therapists (CLT) have undergone training specific to the treatment of lymphedema.
- Treatment includes:
- Physical therapy sessions 3 days a week for 1-hour appointments.
- Duration is based on severity
- Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT): manual lymph drainage (MLD), bandaging, and compression.
- Following treatment, some form of compression must be worn. Not completing the full treatment or wearing compression following treatment will cause the swelling to return.
- When being fitted for a compression garment, patients will be measured in the morning as fluid tends to accumulate throughout the day.
Does insurance pay for this?
- It is the patient’s responsibility to contact his/her insurance company regarding physical therapy and compression garment coverage.
- Medicare does cover the treatment of lymphedema but does not cover the cost of compression garments.
- Private insurance coverage varies depending on the carrier.
For more information, call (217) 222-6550, ext. 3282.