Edema Management

What is lymphedema?

Lymphedema occurs when a clear fluid known as lymphatic fluid builds up in the soft tissues of your body, usually in an arm or leg. The lymphatic system consists of lymph vessels and lymph nodes that run through your body. Lymph vessels collect a fluid that is made up of protein, water, fats, and wastes from the cells of the body. Lymph vessels carry this fluid to your lymph nodes. Lymph nodes filter waste materials and foreign products, and then return the fluid to your blood. If your vessels or nodes become damaged or are missing, the lymph fluid cannot move freely through the system. The fluids can then build up and cause swelling, known as lymphedema, in the affected arms or legs.

What are the symptoms?

If you have lymphedema, you may not develop symptoms immediately. Sometimes symptoms occur 15 or more years following an injury to your lymphatic system. When symptoms eventually occur, they can include:

  • Aching, weakness, redness, heaviness, or tightness in one of your limbs;
  • Less flexibility in your wrist or ankle; and
  • Tight-fitting rings or shoes.

What causes lymphedema?

The most common causes of secondary lymphedema are surgery or radiation treatment for certain types of cancer, such as breast and testicular cancers. Other causes of lymphedema include surgery on the blood vessels in your limbs or other surgical procedures, like liposuction, as well as burns.

How is lymphedema treated?

If you are at risk for developing lymphedema, you can act to prevent it. Initially, if you have mild lymphedema, you can act to keep the condition from worsening.
You can take the following precautions to prevent or minimize symptoms:

  • Clean your affected limb regularly. Remember to dry it thoroughly and apply lotion;
  • Wear gloves while gardening and cooking;
  • If you shave the affected area, use an electric razor;
  • Don't go barefoot;
  • Do not cross your legs when you sit; and
  • Do not carry a handbag with your affected arm.

In addition, if you are at risk for lymphedema, avoid having injections and blood pressure readings performed on your affected limb. You can also wear a special bracelet or necklace to notify medical personnel of your risk for lymphedema and the risk for complications, such as infection.

Some people have benefited from manual lymphatic drainage. Our highly skilled therapist at Step N' Stone is experienced in treatment of Lymphedema using massage to stimulate your weakened lymphatic system. Other treatment methods include special exercises and application of compression stockings or multi-layer bandages, and the use of external pumps to aid the movement of fluid through your body. Call us today to schedule you for appointment.

Do you have a hard to heal wound? Try our Physical Therapy Modality for Wound treatment, Electrical Stimulation. Evidence-based treatment protocol for low- and high-voltage stimulator

  • Q:What is electrical stimulation?

  • A:Electrical stimulation is an established therapeutic intervention used for treating a variety of clinical problems involving the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, genitourinary, and integumentary systems. Within the integumentary system, electrical stimulation has been used clinically for more than 3 decades to accelerate the rate of chronic wound healing.

  • For wound healing applications, therapeutic electric currents are delivered into wound and/or periwound tissue through 2 electrodes applied directly to a patient's skin. To promote wound closure, electrical stimulation treatments are administered 45 minutes to 1 hour per treatment.

  • Q:Electrical stimulation is indicated for what types of wounds?

  • A:Electrical stimulation is indicated for chronic wounds, including pressure, diabetic, arterial, and venous ulcers. Negative polarity administered to the wound by electrical stimulation increases granulation and fibroblast activity, which have been documented to facilitate wound healing. It has been reported that electrical stimulation plus standard wound care has closed pressure ulcers in spinal cord injury patients. It has been shown to enhance the healing of venous leg ulcers by increasing cellular activity, and capillary density in patients who did not respond to standard wound care alone.

  • Q:When would electrical stimulation is contraindicated?

  • A:Electrical stimulation is contraindicated:
    1. for basal or squamous cell carcinoma in wound or periwound tissue
    2. for osteomyelitis (if not responding to systemic treatment with antibiotics)
    3. for ion residues of iodine or silver in the wound
    4. over electronic implants (pacing devices)
    5. over the heart.

  • Q:Why is electrical stimulation thought to be effective in managing wounds?

  • A:Studies have shown that electrical stimulation plus standard wound care accelerates the healing rate of chronic wounds significantly faster than standard wound care alone.

  • Patients who are treated with electrical stimulation to enhance wound healing should be under the direct supervision of a physical therapist or a licensed health care practitioner who is trained to use electrical stimulation. Out therapist are educated in identifying changes in the phases of wound healing and can determine when intervention with standard wound care has failed. Time to Act! Time to Heal! Call us today for your appointment.