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Lymphedema Services

Lymphedema develops when the lymphatic system is impaired, damaged or removed and cannot drain properly, often as a result of cancer treatment or an infection. This can cause an abnormal buildup of fluid that leads to swelling, especially in the arms and legs. At SSM Health, we offer specialized services to help relieve the symptoms of lymphedema and to keep the condition from getting worse.

What Causes Lymphedema?

You may need lymphedema services if you have had a:

  • ​Mastectomy
  • Lumpectomy
  • Cancer surgery
  • Radiation therapy to a lymph node region

Most of these procedures require removal of lymph nodes, which results in a change in the flow of lymph fluid to a particular part of the body. The remaining lymph vessels may be unable to drain enough fluid, causing excess fluid to build up.

What Do Lymphedema Services Include?

Outpatient physical therapy services for lymphedema often include:

  • Lymph drainage massage
  • Exercise
  • Compression bandaging

Our specially trained physical therapists provide education and treatment for patients with primary or secondary lymphedema. The rehabilitation program incorporates skin care and therapeutic exercise as well as manual lymph drainage techniques and the use of bandaging and compressive garments. The overall goal is for patients to achieve self management of chronic and/or progressive lymphedema.

Lymphedema services require a physician referral and an evaluation of cardiac and venous insufficiency problems before the start of therapy. Although most insurances cover this service, we will discuss the costs and commitments with you before beginning treatment, so you can be confident and committed from the beginning of the program. Find a location today to get started.

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