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Lymphedema Physical Therapy

In addition to treating the fluid build-up of lymphedema, our trained clinicians also help restore lost range of motion through a physical therapy program for lymphedema.

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What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of fluid (edema) just below the skin. It most often occurs in the arm or leg, but can occur in other parts of the body is well.

People affected with lymphedema often have difficulty with everyday tasks due to the size of their limb, which can reduce their independence and quality of life. Symptoms may include:

  • Heaviness and tightness
  • Aching
  • Infections
  • Limited mobility


While lymphedema is not a curable condition, it can be controlled and one can learn how to effectively manage it during daily life. Physical therapy will help to reduce the size of the involved limb and the therapist will teach techniques to maintain improvements. Proper management will help reduce the chance of infection, improve wound healing time, and improve overall mobility.


Common Causes of Lymphedema

Lymphedema typically arises when lymph vessels are damaged or after lymph nodes are removed (secondary), but can also occur due to hereditary conditions (primary) as well. Secondary lymphedema is the most common cause of lymphedema and may be a side effect of:

  • Lymph node removal
  • Injury to the lymphatic vessels
  • Radiation
  • Infection
  • Obesity
  • A deficiency in the lymphatic system


*Services are not available at all locations. Call or click the location page near you for that center’s services.

Treatment may include:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage massage – specialized technique designed to stimulate the uptake of lymph and move the fluid out of the body
  • Medical compression bandaging, which can include, but is not limited to, the use of low stretch bandaging systems to prevent refill of treated areas and continual stimulation of lymphatic structures
  • An exercise program to help utilize the muscle pumping action of the body to move fluid along lymphatic pathways

What to Expect

Every patient has a unique health history, diagnosis and personal goals.  When you come for your first appointment, we will create a personalized treatment plan for you.

We work with most major insurance providers and do our best to help keep the paperwork pain-free.  If you’d like to confirm your insurance coverage, please let us know and we can verify when you schedule.  If your insurance provider requires a co-pay, we will ask for this payment at each visit.  We accept payments by cash, check or credit card.

When to arrive for physical therapy

When to Arrive

On average, a patient’s first visit lasts about an hour. We typically ask patients to arrive 15 minutes early to sign-in, complete paperwork and/or change clothes.

What to Bring for Physical Therapy

What to Bring

On your first visit, you’ll need to bring your physician referral or prescription (if needed), your insurance card, your primary registration forms, your ID or driver’s license and your co-payment (as applicable). If desired, you may bring a change of clothing.

How Physical Therapy Works

How it Works

During your first visit, your physical therapist will do an initial evaluation and discuss your plan of care.  The therapist uses this information to set goals for your continued treatment.  Physical therapy goals may include improved movement, strength, endurance and flexibility, as well as decreased pain.  Your subsequent visits will focus on treatment that is based on your diagnosis and individualized goals.

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