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.
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.
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:
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:
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.