WHAT IS LYMPHEDEMA?
Lymphedema is the build up of lymph fluid in the fatty tissue just under your skin which causes swelling (or edema). It is caused by the removal of, or damage to, the lymph nodes of the body. (American Cancer Society) Due to the damage of the lymphatic system, the system becomes blocked and prevents the lymph fluid from draining, which builds up, and causes the swelling in one or both extremities. Symptoms can begin months, or even years, after a surgery or trauma. When diagnosed early, Lymphedema treatment is more successful. Educating yourself, performing weekly visual comparisons, and even monthly measurements of key areas will allow you to recognize the signs and symptoms in their earliest stages. There is no cure for Lymphedema but it can be effectively treated. While most cases of Lymphedema result from secondary causes, there are cases of Primary Lymphedema which we also treat.
EARLY SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF LYMPHEDEMA
- Skin tightness
- Hardening and thickening of the skin
- Aching or general discomfort
- Decreased flexibility
- A feeling of heaviness
- Recurring infections
LYMPHEDEMA PREVENTION & TREATMENT
Excessive swelling, left untreated, can lead to decreased function and mobility of the affected limb, skin breakdown, and infection. However, with the right treatment plan, Lymphedema can be prevented, reduced, or controlled depending on the severity of the condition.
LYMPHEDEMA SERVICES RECEIVED
- Complete Decongestive Therapy (VODDER technique)
- Manual Lymph Drainage
- Lymphatic exercise program
- Low tension bandaging
- Garment fitting
- Skin and wound care
- FDA approved L-Dex measurement tool
WHY IS PREOPERATIVE TESTING ENCOURAGED?
Having a baseline clinical assessment before cancer treatment begins allows the patient’s medical team to better understand what is “normal” for them. It is then easier to detect Lymphedema very early in its development. Earlier treatment of Lymphedema often means a better quality of life.
WHAT IS THE L-DEX
The L-Dex is an assessment tool used to monitor and capture signs of Lymphedema in the early stages, before it becomes problematic. This test is indicated for patients post mastectomy/lumpectomy with axillary node dissection, or other cancers with node dissection, such as ovarian, uterine, prostate, or melanoma. This test can be safely run as often as quarterly. Preoperative testing is encouraged to establish baselines of cellular fluid. Breast Rehabilitation and Lymphedema Healing Center is one of the first therapy centers in the State of New Jersey to have this tool.