Lymphedema Treatment

Manage lymphedema with help from the therapists at Essentia Health. We can help reduce swelling and discomfort, increase your range of motion, and improve your quality of life.

What’s Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is swelling caused by a buildup of lymph—a fluid that contains white blood cells. It usually affects the arms or legs. Your affected limb may have symptoms like a swelling, a heavy or tight feeling, aching or discomfort, reduced range of motion, or thickening skin.

Causes of Lymphedema

You may experience lymphedema due to:

  • Cancer or its treatment
  • Infection
  • Surgery
  • Certain genetic conditions

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Talk to your primary care provider if swelling happens often or affects your ability to do activities. Lymphedema treatment is easier and more effective when the condition is diagnosed early.

Lymphedema Therapy

Trust your therapist to evaluate your symptoms and work with you to develop a personalized care plan that may include:

  • Compression bandages, sleeves, socks, and other garments
  • Exercises
  • Massage
  • Skin care

Lymphedema & Breast Cancer

If you have a mastectomy or get radiation to treat breast cancer, you face an increased risk of lymphedema. That’s because lymph nodes under your arm may be removed or damaged during treatment. Ask your cancer care team about steps you can take prevent lymphedema.

If you and your cancer doctor decide that breast cancer surgery is your best treatment, count on your care team to take steps to help you prevent or detect lymphedema. Before your mastectomy, they’ll:

  • Measure your arms
  • Show you gentle exercises to do after surgery
  • Teach you about symptoms of lymphedema

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