Lymphedema Management

Managing Lymphedema

If you have had radiation treatment for cancer, a mastectomy, lumpectomy, lymph node removal, surgery, traumatic injury or infection, you may be at risk for developing lymphedema.  Here is some information to help you undertand what lymphedema is and how to manage it.

The Lymph System Explained

The lymphatic system is a major component of your immune system.  It collects, transports and eliminates waste products, dead cells, bacteria and protein molecules.  Lymphedema develops when the lymph system is compromised and lymph fluid cannot be transported into circulation.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is the build-up of protein-rich lymph fluid.  This occurs when the lymph system is damaged.  Mastectomies, lumpectomies with radiation, lymph node removal, traumatic injury and infection are the most common causes of secondary lymphedema.

Lymphedema Treatment

Phase 1

  • Manual lymph drainage by a certified lymphedema therapist
  • Exercise
  • Compression bandaging
  • Meticulous skin care

Phase 2

  • Independent home exercise
  • Self bandaging and/or compression garments

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve just had four lymph nodes removed and have undergone a course of radiation and chemotherapy. My arm feels tight and heavy and I have noticed it is much larger than the other arm. Is this lymphedema?
What can I do to prevent lymphedema from occurring?
After treatment, can I resume all my activities?