The lymph vessels, which lie just beneath the skin, move fluid from the body through the lymph nodes and then into the blood. Lymph nodes act as filters to fight infection and help regulate swelling. Lymphedema occurs when lymph nodes or lymph vessels are damaged and cannot properly drain the lymph fluid, usually from an arm or leg.
Patients with lymphedema experience leg swelling and fluid retention in their legs that worsens over the course of the day when standing or sitting. Lymphedema tends to be chronic and persist over the life of the patient.
People with damaged leg veins or a history of blood clots may develop lymphedema due to back up of blood and fluid in the small vessels of the body. Other causes of lymphedema include cancer, infection, radiation treatment for cancer, the removal of lymph nodes due to cancer, or injury to lymph nodes during surgery.
Sequential Compression Devices (SCD)
Multi-chambered lymphedema pumps compress the lymph vessels to enhance the circulation and drainage of lymph fluid and decrease the amount of swelling in the legs.
Instructions for use of Flexitouch SCD:
Instructions for use of ACTitouch SCD:
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT)
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) and complete decongestive therapy (CDT) are specialized types of physical therapy for patients with lymphedema or vasolymphedema. MLD is a type of gentle massage that uses very light pressure to stimulate the lymph vessels that lie just beneath the skin. MLD encourages the natural drainage of the lymph, which carries waste products away from the tissues back toward the heart.
CDT includes manual lymph drainage, compression techniques, exercise, and skin care. The treatment consists of an active phase (2-12 weeks) and a maintenance phase.
Both MLD and CDT help decrease the amount of swelling in the legs due to various conditions such as prolonged damage to the veins and resultant damage to the lymphatic system (vasolymphedema).
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