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What Is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is swelling in your arms or legs. It can happen when your lymph (pronounced 'limf') nodes – the small, bean-shaped glands that are part of your immune system – are blocked, removed or damaged, allowing excess fluid to collect in your limbs.

Your body has hundreds of lymph nodes. These lymph nodes produce a fluid – called lymph or lymphatic fluid – that carries white blood cells throughout your body to fight infection.

Sometimes, the lymph system becomes damaged as a side effect of cancer treatments like radiation therapy or surgery to remove lymph nodes. When these changes prevent lymphatic fluid from flowing the way it usually does, the lymph can pool in the arms or legs and cause lymphedema.

What Is Lymphedema Therapy?

Lymphedema therapy is physical therapy that focuses on relieving swelling in the arms and legs by moving lymphatic fluid out of your limbs. Lymphedema therapy can also prevent additional swelling and help keep you comfortable.

At many Aurora Health Care locations, we offer lymphedema relief with treatment by a certified lymphedema therapist (CLT). A CLT is an experienced physical therapist, massage therapist or other medical provider who has extensive experience with lymphedema management.

The Aurora Difference

Specialized Lymphedema Relief

Lymphedema requires specialized care, and you’ll find it at Aurora. Here, your doctor and your therapist will work closely with you to identify treatments and solutions that can relieve swelling and help you recover.

You’ll benefit from advantages including:

  • Certified lymphedema therapists: Our CLTs have hands-on training and experience as well as detailed knowledge of the body’s anatomy. Find our locations offering lymphedema therapy.
  • Full range of therapy options: If your doctor or therapist believe you would benefit from other types of rehabilitation, like physical therapy, occupational therapy or hand therapy, you’ll find skilled therapists ready to care for you in the Aurora system. See our rehabilitation and therapy services.
  • Coordinated care: As one of Wisconsin’s largest regional health systems, we offer integrated care throughout your post-surgical treatment. Your doctors and your lymphedema therapist will use the same medical record to track and discuss your progress, so your care never misses a beat.

What to Expect

Lymphedema Therapy: What to Expect

At your first appointment, we’ll do a physical examination and talk with you about how you feel and your treatment goals.

Then, we’ll develop your personalized lymphedema treatment plan together. Your plan may include:

  • Compression garments to prevent lymphatic fluid from pooling in your arms and legs
  • Elevation of your affected limbs to help fluid move more freely
  • Massage treatments to improve the flow of lymphatic fluid, followed by compression bandaging to reduce swelling
  • Exercises to improve your physical fitness without straining the arm or leg that’s affected by lymphedema
  • Education about diet and skin care that can reduce the risk of swelling and infection
  • Self-care techniques that you can use at home

Your lymphedema therapist will monitor the size of your limbs throughout your treatment. These measurements help them understand how well your treatment is progressing and confirm that the swelling is going down.

Treatment for lymphedema usually involves appointments once or twice weekly for several weeks, with periodic follow-up as needed so you can get back to the things you love.

Our Locations

Locations Offering Lymphedema Therapy

Brown County

Aurora BayCare Health Center
2253 W. Mason St.
Green Bay, WI 54303

Aurora BayCare Rehabilitation Center
1160 Kepler Dr.
Green Bay, WI 54311

Fond du Lac County

Aurora Sports Health
210 Wisconsin American Drive
Hwy. 23 East
Fond du Lac, WI 54935

Manitowoc County

Aurora Sports Health
5300 Memorial Dr.
Two Rivers, WI 54241

Milwaukee County

Aurora Rehabilitation Center
Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center
Physician Office Building, Suite 150
2901 W. Kinnickinnic River Pkwy.
Milwaukee, WI 53215

Aurora Sports Health
Aurora West Allis Medical Center
8901 W. Lincoln Ave.
West Allis, WI 53227

Ozaukee County
Aurora Medical Center – Grafton
975 N. Port Washington Road
Grafton, WI 53024
Racine County
709 Spring Valley Road
Burlington, WI 53105
Sheboygan County
Aurora Health Center
2600 Kiley Way
Plymouth, WI 53073
Walworth County
W3985 County Road NN
Elkhorn, WI 53121
Washington County
Aurora Health Center
1048 E. Commerce Blvd.
Slinger, WI 53086
Waukesha County
Aurora Health Center
1640 E. Sumner St.
Hartford, WI 53027
St. Luke's New Berlin Health Care Center
14555 W. National Ave., Suite 195
New Berlin, WI 53151
Aurora Medical Center in Summit
36500 Aurora Dr.
Summit, WI 53066
Winnebago County
Aurora Medical Center
855 N. Westhaven Drive
Oshkosh, WI 54904

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