Are You Struggling To Manage Lymphedema Symptoms?
What is Lymphedema?
Are parts of your body swollen, tight, or hard to the touch? In some cases, individuals with lymphedema are already aware of their condition. In others, they may need a bit of education to know where to turn for pain relief.
The lymphatic system is an essential part of your immune and circulatory systems, so when it is not working properly, lymphedema can occur.
Lymphedema is categorized as a swelling condition that typically occurs in the upper or lower extremities, due to an excessive buildup of lymph fluid.
Your lymphatic system is part of your circulatory system, and it is a network of vessels that carry lymph fluid towards the heart.
When there is a blockage in your lymphatic system, you may experience swelling of your arms or legs as the fluid is not able to drain properly. Improper drainage results in a build-up of the lymph fluid in your arms and legs, which can present possible health risks when it is left untreated.
Thankfully, there is an option available to you to manage your pain symptoms if you’re dealing with this condition, physical therapy. Contact Achieve Therapy and Fitness today and request an appointment; let us help you find the relief you deserve.
Causes and symptoms of lymphedema
There are two categories of lymphedema: primary lymphedema and secondary lymphedema. They occur for different reasons but are equally as difficult to deal with.
Primary lymphedema is either inherited or occurs on its own. The cause of primary lymphedema isn’t always obvious. Your primary care physician may want to take additional imaging tests in order to look at your lymphatic system as well as rule out other possible conditions. These tests may include an MRI scan, CT scan, Doppler ultrasound, or lymphoscintigraphy.
Secondary lymphedema happens as a result of a disease or condition. Oftentimes, secondary lymphedema occurs after a person receives treatments for cancer. Lymphedema also can be the result of surgical treatment involving the lymph nodes. It is most common in surgical cancer treatments where the lymph nodes are damaged or removed entirely.
The most common causes of secondary lymphedema include:
- Radiation treatment for Cancer
Usually, lymphedema symptoms occur in the arms and legs. Pain levels range from mild (noticing subtle changes or feelings in your limbs) to severe (noticing extreme changes or feelings in your limbs, to the point where they may be difficult to use).
It can sometimes take months (or even years) for lymphedema to develop as a result of cancer treatment. There are also a handful of symptoms that accompany lymphedema that could serve as indicators that you may have developed this condition.
The following symptoms of lymphedema are pretty common, and if you’re experiencing them, it’s important to contact a therapist as soon as possible:
- Restricted range of motion
How can physical therapy help lymphedema?
Although there is no cure for this condition, physical therapy is a safe and natural option to manage lymphedema symptoms. A physical therapist can use several methods to help relieve your pain and teach you how to decrease the frequency you experience at home.
At Achieve Therapy in Grand Forks, Grafton, & Park River in North Dakota or East Grand Forks, Park Rapids, & Detroit Lakes in Minnesota, our physical therapist will complete a thorough analysis of your condition and will design a customized treatment plan to treat your specific case of lymphedema. This plan will be dependent upon your physical evaluation, health history, and the severity of your symptoms. For lymphatic treatment plans, the focus will be put strongly on manual therapy and light exercises for pain relief.
Our therapist may use manual therapy. One special type of manual therapy is referred to as “manual lymph drainage”, and is commonly used for patients with lymphedema. Manual lymph drainage encourages the flow of lymph fluid in your upper and lower extremities. This might also be accompanied by additional massages to increase circulation and provide relief.
Your exercise plan created by one of our Grand Forks, Grafton, & Park River in North Dakota or East Grand Forks, Park Rapids, & Detroit Lakes in Minnesota physical therapists will involve gentle contractions of the muscles to regain function and improve your range of motion. Exercising the affected limb(s) often also encourages lymph fluid drainage.
When it comes to conditions that involve chronic swelling, there are many risks to worry about. Some of these include circulation issues, infections, and the potential for future injury. It is very important to receive treatment for lymphedema and to follow up with your doctor and physical therapist at Achieve Therapy on a routine basis to make sure your condition is not worsening.
Additional treatments, such as wrapping, compression, or complete decongestive therapy may also be added to your treatment care plan as your Achieve Therapy physical therapist deems fit.
Get the pain relief you’ve been searching for
Lymphedema can rule your life, but it doesn’t have to. If you’re dealing with lymphedema and are searching for relief, your search ends here. Call us at 866-320-3562 or click here to request an appointment at our Grand Forks, Grafton, & Park River in North Dakota or East Grand Forks, Park Rapids, & Detroit Lakes in Minnesota physical therapy office today. Achieve Therapy will help reduce your lymphedema symptoms and improve your daily life.