Lymphedema Rehabilitation Therapy

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This program is made possible by a grant from the Western New York Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is an accumulation of fluid in any body part but, most typically, in the arms or legs, when the lymph nodes are blocked or removed. There are two types of lymphedema, primary and secondary. Lymphedema affects more than three million people in the United States each year - more than 250 million worldwide.

Primary Lymphedema has no known cause, can occur at birth, during puberty or adulthood.

Secondary Lymphedema may result from surgical removal of or permanent damage to the lymph nodes. It also may be caused by traumatic injury.

Who is at Risk?
If you have had radiotherapy to your groin or armpit, or if you have had surgery to have lymph nodes removed, you are at an increased risk of developing lymphedema.
It can occur immediately, within a few months, a couple of years, or 20 years or more after cancer therapy.

Symptoms of Lymphedema

  • Puffiness
  • Swelling
  • A feeling of heat
  • Pitting of the skin
  • Repeated episodes of infection
  • Heavy or full sensation
  • Tightness and stretching of the skin
  • Reduced movement of the joints
  • Thickening and dryness of the skin
  • Discomfort and pain

It is important to remember that most people with lymphedema only have mild symptoms.

Lymphedema can also cause, distress, depression, sexual dysfunction, physical disability, disfigurement, cosmetic problems and many life style changes for both men and women. These affects can be minimized by prompt and proper treatment.

How can it be avoided?
With proper education and care, lymphedema can be avoided or, if it develops, kept under control. It helps to not put too much strain on your lymphatic system - by avoiding infection or inflammation in the treated area.

Complete Decongestive Therapy
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)
uses gentle, light touch massage to stimulate secondary lymphatic channels to move fluid through the lymph system to help break down fibrotic tissue and decrease the volume of lymph in the limb. This causes the body's immune system to function more effectively.

Compression Bandages help increase lymph flow and prevent refilling of the limb between sessions. They also encourage the skin to reshape to a smaller size.

Exercise enhances lymphatic drainage and restores strength, flexibility, endurance, and function.

Meticulous Skin Care using a low pH, lanolin based lotion will help reduce the chance of skin infection while keeping the skin moist.

Consultation and referrals to the Lymphedema Treatment Service can be arranged by calling 298-2249.

Insurance Coverage
Insurance coverage varies. We will be happy to help you contact your health care insurer.

Outpatient Hours:
We are open Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. same day appointments are available. Please call us at 298-2249. Our office is located at 4525 Witmer Road, Niagara Falls, New York 14304, take the Witmer Road exit off the 190.

Located in Lewiston, New York (in Niagara County), Mount St. Mary’s Hospital is a short drive from Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls Canada. Canadians, we welcome you with open arms.

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