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Lymphedema is a troubling complication that can develop after certain cancers or its treatment (such as breast cancer). It is caused by interruption of the lymph drainage which can cause discomfort and swelling in the arm, leg or other affected region of the body.
A certified lymphedema therapist can best manage this condition and uses the following principals:
- Education: how, if possible, to prevent the condition, including proper skin care and hygiene.
- Exercise: patients are instructed on the type and intensity of exercise to help mobilize the fluid. Stretching exercises can help loosen the tissues in the involved region
- Compression garments: special elastic lymphedema garments or bandaging can encourage fluid movement and reduce swelling. It is important to be fit properly to avoid worsening the swelling in one section of the body. A therapist can help determine how and when a patient should be wearing the garments.
- Massage therapy: manual lymphedema therapy (MLT) is used to move fluid through collateral channels, enhancing flow through the lymphatic system. Soft tissue mobilization (or myofascial release) is a type of massage that can be used to release scar tissue and other tightness that may contribute to the swelling.
- Complex physical therapy: this is a multimodality approach that uses massage, skin care, exercise, and compression garments. It is considered an effective treatment for lymphedema, if the condition is not responsive to compression therapy alone.
For appointments, a doctor's written prescription is needed and may be sent by fax or mail. Prior authorization by the health plan may also be needed. Patients will be called to arrange an initial evaluation within 24 hours of receiving the prescription.
To schedule an appointment or to get more information, please call (310) 423-2111.