The lymphatic system is an important part of your body, as it is responsible for vital functions. When there are issues with the system, such as blockage or drainage problems, this can result in various symptoms. Lymphedema is a common condition, and it affects millions of people every year. If you have lymphedema that is interfering with your daily life, you may benefit from physical therapy near me.
Understanding the Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is made up of various tissues and organs, as well as vessels, nodes, and ducts. All of these components work together to gather and circulate fluid throughout the body. The main functions of this system include:
- Support the immune system by destroying viruses and other harmful pathogens that enter the body
- Maintain proper fluid balance by collecting excess fluid and filtering out waste products
- Assist in the absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins
The lymphatic system is located all over the body. Disorders that can affect this system include infections, cancers, inflammation, and lymphedema.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema occurs when there is swelling due to lymph fluid accumulation. Common reasons that lymph nodes may be blocked include cancer tumors, scarring of lymph nodes due to radiation therapies, and parasites that clog the nodes. Lymphedema may also occur if lymph nodes have been removed, which often happens in cancer surgeries.
The areas of the body that lymphedema usually affects include the legs and arms, although it can also affect the abdomen, chest wall, and genitals. Swelling that does not subside is a prime indicator of lymphedema, although there are often additional symptoms, such as:
- Reduced range of motion
- Feeling of tightness at the affected area
- Skin thickening and hardening
- Frequent infections
Some people experience mild symptoms, while others experience severe symptoms that result in pain. If you are looking for an effective treatment for lymphedema, begin looking for physical therapy clinics that specialize in lymphedema management.
How Physical Therapy Can Help with Lymphedema
When you find a physical therapy near me that works with clients who have lymphedema, the physical therapist will have an initial appointment with you. During this session, the PT will ask you about your symptoms, such as how long they have been there and if anything makes them worse or better. The therapist will conduct an exam to see how the condition is affecting you. Then, he or she will make recommendations for treatment.
The main purposes of treatment are to reduce fluid accumulation, reduce symptoms, and improve movement. The physical therapist may use gentle manual therapy to drain and move the fluid, or this may be done using a compression pump. The PT may also apply compression bandages to the affected area.
The therapist may show you some exercises that you can do at home to improve drainage, soften the tissue, and improve range of motion. He or she may also make recommendations such as clothing to assist in compression, proper hygiene, lifestyle changes, or other techniques to help manage the symptoms.