Each month, classes are held to educate patients on lymphedema & related subjects. Visit the “Patients” tab on our website for details. We also offer seminars for medical professionals such as home health organizations. Call 214-422-8265 for more information.
What is Lymphedema?
Imagine two lanes being removed from a major city highway. Traffic remains the same but cars will begin to back up. Or suppose lanes are intact but there’s a Cowboy’s game & an overflow of traffic. In either scenario, the roads can’t handle the demand of traffic. Removing or disrupting the lymphatics causes a similar problem with fluid backing up. When this happens, a cascade of events begins to occur. Protein-rich fluid accumulates. Chronic inflammation leads to hardening of tissue, increased risk for Cellulitis infections, tissue changes (color change, papules forming, fluid seeping out, etc.). This is Lymphedema.
In “Lymph-edema,” there is edema (swelling) involving the lymphatic system. Sometimes it is because the lymphatic system is impaired (intrinsically, called Primary Lymphedema; or by injury, called Secondary Lymphedema described above). True lymphedema is a chronic disease & compression must be worn for life in most cases. There are a variety of conditions that can lead to Secondary Lymphedema such as:
- Cancer (lymph node removal &/or radiation treatment, tumors)
- Trauma (surgery, scarring, disruption of lymphatic vessels)
- Vascular Impairment (Chronic Venous Insufficiency, vein harvesting)
- Poor mobility & dependent positioning (i.e. stroke or spinal cord injuries)
- Lipedema, Obesity
- Infections (such as Erysipelas – or what some refer to as “Cellulitis”)
How is Lymphedema Treated?
Lymphedema is treated by a therapist or other medical professional who is certified to do what is called Complete Decongestive Therapy (an approach involving 5 components: Manual Lymph Drainage massage, Compression Bandaging using short-stretch bandages, Exercise, Skin Care & Self-Care training which includes long-term compression garments.). Sessions take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours depending on a patient’s presentation & the number of extremities involved. On average, a person is seen 3x/week for 4 weeks but this may vary depending on a patient’s need.
Where do I find a qualified therapist?
According to the Lymphology Association of North America, training schools providing certification should consist of a minimum of 135 hours of instruction with 1/3 of that time being devoted to anatomy & physiology of the lymphatic system & 2/3 being hands-on training in order for therapists to be qualified to provide Complete Decongestive Therapy. To find a certified therapist, you can visit the website of the training schools below. You can also search the Lymphology Association of North America’s therapist directory to find additionally certified LANA therapists.
- Klose Training (http://klosetraining.com/)
- The Vodder School (http://www.vodderschool.com/)
- Norton School of Lymphatics (http://www.nortonschool.com/)
- Academy of Lymphatic Studies (http://www.acols.com/)
- Casley-Smith (http://www.casley-smith-lymphedema-courses.org/index.html)
- Lymphology Association of North America (http://www.clt-lana.org/index.html)