Using Physical Therapy Treatment for Dealing With Lymphedema Symptoms

Lymphedema is an uncomfortable condition that causes swelling in the arms and legs. Unfortunately, it often worsens over time. Even though lymphedema may be chronic, there are many steps you can take to alleviate symptoms, reduce swelling and halt progression. Oklahoma City physical therapy can ease lymphedema and drastically improve your quality of life. 

Learn the Basics of Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a buildup of fluid in the body’s lymphatic system. This system protects you from disease by allowing pathogen-fighting white blood cells to move easily through the body in a substance called lymph fluid. Organs such as the spleen help filter and circulate this fluid in and out of the blood to help keep you healthy. 

Any damage to the lymphatic system can render it unable to move the lymph fluid effectively. This fluid builds up inside the body. Cancer treatment is a leading cause of lymphedema, as it can involve the removal of lymph nodes.  Lymphedema has a variety of other causes from certain radiation therapies to skin infections to physical trauma. 

As the lymph fluid builds up in the body, swelling occurs in the affected areas (often the arms and legs but occasionally the abdomen, neck or genitals). The skin there may feel tight, uncomfortable or hot. Movement becomes more difficult and painful, as the body isn’t designed to move around excess lymph fluid deposits. Since lymph fluid is primarily protein, it won’t go away on its own like water-based swelling from a typical injury. 

Without treatment, more lymph fluid may accumulate and make the condition worse. The more fluid builds up, the harder it is to remove. Late-stage lymphedema can result in the inability to move or bend affected limbs due to excessive swelling. 

Deal With Pesky Symptoms

Fortunately, there are many lmyphedema treatment options available that are highly effective. Physical therapy treatment for lymphedema is called Complete Decongestive Therapy because it uses multiple techniques to decongest (drain lymph fluid from) the limbs. These methods include:

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage, a gentle massage to dissipate lymph fluid deposits 
  • Compression from bandages and special tight garments
  • Caring for the skin to prevent minor infections and an influx of lymph fluid
  • Exercises and stretches that decongest the affected areas

Reduce Pain and Regain Flexibility

Thorough treatment can break up the swelling caused by lymphedema and halt its progression. From there, a physical therapist can further help you regain function lost to the disease.

A gentle exercise regimen can help stop the fluid from pooling in the limbs again and also recondition your muscles. Since lymphedema makes it difficult to move and stretch your body, it’s important to regain these skills after the fluid deposits have been dispersed.

Physical therapy isn’t just for recovering from major injuries. Many medical conditions can be managed with physical therapy. Vestibular imbalance therapy near me can aid with symptoms of vertigo which, like lymphedema, is caused by fluid irregularities in the body. If medical symptoms are affecting your daily life, book an appointment with a qualified physical therapist. 

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