Physical therapy that treats lymphedema is designed to address the condition of lymph nodes that are blocked and prevent proper drainage of the lymph. This lymph fluid moves bacteria to the lymph nodes where it can be destroyed. When the lymph nodes are not drained properly, it can cause serious swelling in the limbs, requiring the application of lymphedema physical therapy. Missoula MT residents can take advantage of this treatment which can consist of the manual drainage of the lymph fluid, massage, exercise, and the use of compression garments to address the condition.
Goals of Physical Therapy Treatment for Lymphedema
Some of the goals of treating lymphedema include decreasing pain and swelling, increasing strength, flexibility, and range of motion, restoring function, and improving overall quality of life of the patient.
One of the initial steps involved in lymphedema physical therapy is massaging the limbs. The application of daily massaging may be performed by a physical therapist in the early stages of treatment with the goal of reducing swelling in the affected area of the limb. Physical therapists may focus pressure on the limb which serves to relocate lymph fluid through the body. After the limb is restored to normal size, these exercises can be used by loved ones or friends of the patient who can continue applying the daily massage routine in order to prevent future reoccurrence of the swelling.
Deliberate care must be taken regarding the application of effective physical therapy treatment for lymphedema. Performing light exercises that move the affected leg or arm can assist in the flow of lymph flow. Light exercises are preferred as opposed to vigorous exercises. A trained and knowledgeable physical therapist can teach you exercises designed to moderately exercise the muscles and push lymph fluid away from the affected area.
Physical therapy can also include the use of compression with air bladders and the elevation of the limb in order to transfer lymph in the right direction.
The use of compression garments is also an important element of ongoing lymphedema physical therapy treatment. These garments are usually made of elastic, stretchy material that is wrapped over the affected limb. Pressure applied from the compression garments can keep the limb from swelling more from the lymph fluid buildup.