What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the interstitial tissue
that causes swelling, most often in the arms and legs, and occasionally
in other parts of the body. While the condition can be present at birth,
lymphedema most often develops as a result of radiation, infection or
trauma. In Western societies, one of the most common causes is the removal
of the breast (mastectomy). This causes lymphedema of the arm in 10 to
15 percent of patients. Signs and symptoms of lymphedema include: a full
sensation in the limbs, skin feeling tight, decreased flexibility in the
hand, wrist or ankle, difficulty fitting into clothing in one specific
area or ring/wristwatch/bracelet tightness. In addition to swelling, common
complications include chronic wounds and ulcers and the breakdown of skin.
How is Lymphedema treated?
Treatment for lymphedema includes:
- Compression, usually with multilayered bandages
- Manual lymph drainage
- Range of motion exercise
Southeast Georgia Health System has two specially trained and certified
lymphedema clinicians on staff and is the area's only provider of
lymphedema treatment for patients who are uninsured or have Medicaid as
their primary insurer. Thanks to a grant from the Susan G. Koman Foundation,
Linda Huffmyer, DPT, and Julie Toler, PTA, completed an advanced focused
instruction program in the proper treatment of lymphedema and can provide
customized care for each patient. In addition to manual lymph drainage,
our lymphedema therapists will apply customized bandages and educate on
exercises to help minimize the re-accumulation of fluid in the affected
limb in order to expedite your recovery.
For more information, please call 912-466-5330.