Congratulations to Dr. Benjamin Myers, Physical Therapist, who has just completed his full certification through the Academy of Lymphatic Studies as a Lymphedema Specialist. His training allows him to function as a specialist who is able to effectively treat individuals with lymphedema anywhere in the body. Dr. Myers’ success allows Kinetic to continue to offer multiple specialty services to the great people we serve.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is an accumulation of protein-rich fluid in the superficial tissues and is a very common and serious condition worldwide. It has important pathological and clinical consequences for the patient if left untreated.
Secondary lymphedema is often caused by trauma to the lymphatic system, such as surgery, injury, scarring, infection and radiation therapy. Post-mastectomy lymphedema of the upper extremity caused by breast cancer treatment is very common in the United States.
Another cause for lymphedema is malformations of the lymphatic system (primary lymphedema). In such cases the swelling may appear after simple accidents such as sports injuries, which can suddenly overload the lymphatic system.
Treatment Consists of:
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) – a gentle manual treatment which improves the function and flow of the lymphatic system. It’s used to re-route lymph (fluid) flow around blocked areas to more health lymph vessels.
Compression Therapy – Compression therapy increases tissue pressure and improves the efficiency of the muscle and joint pump. Multi-layered compression bandages are applied between MLD treatments to help prevent re-accumulation of evacuated fluid. Once the patient’s limb is sufficiently decongested through repeated treatments, they can be fit with compression garments.
Exercises – exercises are performed with compression bandages in place to activate the muscle and joint pumps of the affected extremity. This results in increased activity in the lymphatic system and further reduction of the swollen limb over time.
Skin Care – Skin care and general hygiene are essential to eliminate bacterial and fungal growth which can cause repeated attacks of cellulitis. Infections are very common complications of lymphedema so meticulous skin and nail care is an important component of treatment.
Those in need of treatment for this condition should seek treatment early to maximize the body’s ability to recover. Although a referral is not required to begin physical therapy treatment, we intentionally will partner with your physician to ensure that you will achieve the best outcomes.