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What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of lymphatic fluid in the tissues just beneath the skin. It occurs most often in arms or legs, but it can appear in other areas as well, such as the head, neck, chest, and torso.
Lymphedema is a lifelong condition that can be managed, but not cured. At UR Medicine our skilled providers offer the latest treatments and care for lymphedema.
UR Medicine's Treatments for Lymphedema
The UR Medicine Occupational Therapy (OT) lymphedema program uses a four-part system:
- Skin care
- Phase 1 (reduction): The goal is to shrink the swelling. Short-stretch bandage wrapping (not an Ace wrap) and Velcro wraps are options at this stage. Phase 1 lasts as long as the size of the swollen area is shrinking and you can tolerate the wrapping.
- Phase 2 (containment): The goal is to keep you at your current size. We use a compression sleeve/stocking, or you may continue with a Velcro wrap. Use of a glove or gauntlet with a sleeve is common as well.
- Manual lymphatic drainage (in the clinic and at home): This hands-on technique, which requires the first three phases, helps with the flow of the fluid.
We also can treat other forms of edema (swelling due to fluid) in the same way, even if they're not technically lymphedema.
To attend this program, you will need a referral from a doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant.
What Sets Us Apart?
We treat patients in multiple locations within the UR Medicine network. Our therapists, including Lymphedema Certified Providers, have undergone extensive post-graduate training in the care of lymphedema and are uniquely positioned to help.
While lymphedema is not curable, properly trained therapists are able to decrease the swelling and educate patients in self-management, greatly reducing discomfort and increasing function.