Lymphedema is chronic swelling due primarily to a failure or blockage of the lymphatic system. The goal of lymphedema management is to restore function, reduce physical and psychologic suffering, and prevent the development of infection. Treatment consists of a short and long-term technique called Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT), recognized as the most effective and least invasive approach to the treatment of lymphedema. It consists of the following steps:
- Evaluation by a specially trained therapist
- Manual Lymphatic Treatment (MLT)
- Compression bandaging and compression garments
- Therapeutic exercise
- Skin and nail care
At UNC REX Rehabilitation Services, a licensed physical or occupational therapist who has been specially trained in Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT) will perform your lymphedema evaluation and treatment. Our therapists are highly skilled and have completed a minimum of 90 to 135 hours of comprehensive, hands-on training in CDT techniques.
We provide the following services for our lymphedema patients:
Manual Lymphedema Treatment (MLT)
MLT is a gentle manual pressure that helps your damaged lymphatic system drain. The therapist's hands help stimulate the surface levels of the system to develop new drainage routes, helping with long-term management of swelling.
Your therapist may prescribe gentle exercise to aid in your treatment. The gentle pumping action of your muscles underneath compression bandages or garments stimulates the pumping action of your lymphatic system, which further promotes lymph drainage.
Applying compression bandages helps maintain treatment results. The bandage continues the pressure on the lymphatic system to allow the drainage process to continue.
Aquatic therapy is an excellent supplement to CDT. At UNC REX Rehabilitation Services, we offer aquatic therapy as an adjunct to traditional treatment, if needed. The hydrostatic pressure of the water enhances lymphatic return and thus can assist in edema reduction and control. The water also offers assistance in regaining range-of-motion. Aquatic therapy requires a prescription from your doctor. Learn more about our Aquatic Therapy services.
Nail & Skin Care
Our therapists will teach you how to properly care for your skin and nails to help prevent infection.
Lymphedema Evaluation and Treatment is currently offered at our Wakefield and Raleigh locations.