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How to Treat Lymphedema & Chronic Swelling

March 6, 2020

This is the 3rd blog post in this series about lymphedema and chronic swelling (each post also has a video). 

In the first post, I introduced “lymphedema” and the lymphatic system and explained the purpose of your lymphatic system. 

If you missed that post, here’s the link to it:

In the 2nd post, we expanded off the info from the first post and discussed what causes lymphedema and chronic swelling. Here’s the link to that post, in case you haven’t checked it out yet:

In today’s post, now that you understand how about the lymphatic system and what causes lymphedema and swelling, it’s time to talk about how to successfully treat it! 

How to Treat Lymphedema & Chronic Swelling

Our lymphedema-trained physical therapists at Gordon PT follow a 4-step approach to helping our clients succcessfully treat and manage their lymphedema and swelling.

Here are the 4 steps: 

-> Step 1: Skin Care and Treatment of any infection including Active Cellulitis

-> Step 2: Exercises that activate the muscle pumping mechanism to help move the fluid

-> Step 3: Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) massage to move the lymph fluid to working pathways and healthy lymph nodes

-> Step 4: Compression Bandaging and/or Compression garments to help keep the lymphedema down, as well as compression devices (such as leg pumps)

I’ll explain the 4 steps in more detail in the video below and give you some examples of common types of clients we help, including an explanation of how to help people with lymphedema following cancer treatment (surgery and/or radiation). 

2 More Things About Lymphedema Treatment

Before I wrap up this post and direct you towards the video, there are 2 more ideas about lymphedema treatment that I want to share with you: 

-> Idea #1: Step 3 involves what we call MLD (Manual Lymph Drainage). Learning these hands-on techniques takes specialized training, which most PTs simply don’t have (myself included!).

This is why it’s so important to work with a lymphedema-trained physical therapist for the best chances of success. Keep that in mind if you’re seeking help with treating your lymphedema and/or swelling. 

-> Idea #2: There’s a 5th step that I didn’t mention above… educating our clients about how to manage their lymphedema and swelling on their own. 

This home-management involves a lot of education related to self-massage techniques and any needed compression techniques (wrapping, bandaging, compression devices).

At times, we’ll also train family members or loved ones on how to help with the MLD techniques and compression options. 

Many of our clients with lymphedema and swelling will need our help to manage their issues, but the more we can help them learn to manage their swelling, the better!

I hope this 3-part series on lymphedema and swelling has been helpful! If you have more questions or would like to work with one of our lymphedema experts, give us a call at the clinic at (509) 892-5442!

– Luke

The video is below 🙂

spokane valley gordon physical therapy

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Gordon Physical Therapy - Spokane Valley, WA

626 North Mullan Road #4, Spokane Valley, WA 99206

(509) 892-5442

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