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Lower Extremity/ Leg Lymphedema

Below are before and after photos of patients that received lymphedema therapy.
Please notice the significant decrease in swelling in their legs. If you are concerned about your lack of mobility or lymphedema, we can help.

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What is the lymphatic system?

The lymphatic system is structured like a web, occasionally draining into small lumps or nodes that filter the lymphatic fluid. The system works through the pumping power of the body’s muscles. The muscles contract, increasing pressure within the lymph vessels, which causes the fluid to move. Lymphatic fluid is a protein rich fluid. The muscle pump from the body helps to break down large protein molecules into smaller ones. The system contains a series of one-way valves that ensure that the fluid and protein moves in the appropriate way through the body. The lymphatic system helps rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.

What is lymphedema?

Lymphedema, the build up of protein rich fluid in the subcutaneous interstitial compartment occurs when either lymph fluid is impeded from flowing through the lymph vessels and lymphatic system or there is an excess of fluid that exceeds the carrying capacity of the lymph system. It collects in the subcutaneous and deep tissues causing swelling of the affected area and predisposes to chronic inflammation.

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What is the goal of rehabilitation and complete decongestive therapy for lower extremity lymphedema?

Currently, there is no cure for lymphedema. Therefore, the purpose of therapeutic intervention is to reduce the swelling as much as possible, utilizing the remaining lymphatic channels and pathways. In doing so, we are working toward functional independence, prevention and elimination of infections, and the reduction and removal of fibrotic tissue.

What is Complete decongestive therapy?

Complete decongestive therapy consists of a combination of manual lymphatic drainage, compression therapy, therapeutic exercise, and skin care education.

How can treatment improve your overall daily function/living?

Sometimes, it’s the little things…. finding pants that fit, dress shoes to wear to the office, sneakers to provide enough support for exercise, socks that fit properly at the calf or ankle, etc. Treatment also decreases your risk of infection and early intervention can prevent exacerbation of swelling to eliminate risk of “elephantiasis”.

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