An evaluation is done by Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist or Certified Lymphedema Therapist.
Treatment time depends on category of the lymphedema.
- Mild: 6 - 8 treatment sessions. Instructions in self-massage, exercise and possible fitting with a compression garment to prevent refilling.
- Moderate/Severe: 7 - 8 sessions first two weeks and then 2 - 3 times per week for approximately six weeks depending on response. A caregiver will be instructed early on how to assist with bandaging since bandaging will need to be worn 22 out of 24 hours for approximately 2 - 3 weeks.
- Severe: 5 times weekly for two weeks and then 3 times and then 2 and then 1 for a total of 6 weeks. May need to be seen twice daily if results are minimal after the first week.
Treatment Sessions Include:
- Manual lymphedema treatment or drainage (MLT/MLD) for 30 - 60 minutes. Instruct on self-massage to encourage lymph flow.
- Medical Compression Bandaging using low stretch bandages. Instruction on bandaging at home.
- Exercise - while limb is bandaged or wearing a compression garment. Instruct on how exercise and conditioning program to be followed at home.
- Skin care - evaluation and instruction on self-care.
Consequences of Not Treating Lymphedema
- Increase in girth size from 2 cm to elephantiasis
- Chronic severe infections
- Brawny edema (fibrotic hard edema)
- Pain, decrease in sensation and sweat patterns and other sympathetic nerve functional deficits
- Loss of range of motion, loss of strength and increased fatigue
- ADL limitations