Your lymph nodes work hard to keep you healthy. They produce a fluid that collects and removes bacteria, viruses and waste products from the body. But when a blockage prevents this fluid from draining properly, it can lead to swelling in your arms and legs. This is called lymphedema.
Any condition or procedure that affects your lymph nodes can cause lymphedema. For example, surgery to remove lymph nodes, usually during cancer treatment, is a leading cause. Radiation treatment for cancer can also damage your lymph nodes.
Symptoms of lymphedema may include:
There's no cure for lymphedema, but specially trained Mercy physical therapists and occupational therapists can help you manage symptoms. Treatment for lymphedema focuses on reducing swelling and managing pain.
PhysioTouch treatments are available for breast cancer patients at several Mercy locations. This device is often used with manual lymphedema treatment to break-up fibrotic and scar tissues (related to surgery or radiation treatment), and improve blood and lymphatic flow to the damaged areas. The device helps expand and stretch the tissue, helping patients heal faster.
Light exercises to move your arms and legs and encourage lymph fluid to drain as well as special massage techniques to help move fluid out of your arms or legs.
Compression garments such as long sleeves or stockings that compress your arms or legs and help move fluid out of your affected limbs. Pneumatic compression sleeves are worn over your arms or legs. A pump intermittently inflates the sleeves, creating pressure and moving lymph fluid away from your fingers or toes.
Complete decongestive therapy includes compression bandaging, manual lymphatic drainage, education on skin care, diet and exercise.
ASTYM® is used for reducing fibrotic tissue and improving tissue alignment for increased lymphatic flow and range of motion.
Cancer rehabilitation is used to address fatigue, weakness, endurance and balance as needed in combination with other treatments.
Our lymphedema specialists will help find treatments that work best for you. We want you to feel and look better, so you can get back to doing all the things you love.
At Mercy, we offer comprehensive services to diagnose and treat a full range of conditions, including:
At Mercy, we offer comprehensive testing services to diagnose conditions and injuries, including: