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Physical Therapy for Lymphedema
Home Services Physical Therapy for Lymphedema
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Physical Therapy for Lymphedema

JAG PT Lymphedema Therapists by Location

New Jersey

Jersey City (Greene St.), NJ
West Long Branch, NJ

New York

Lymphedema causes localized swelling of soft tissue due to a malfunction in the lymphatic system. This condition most often affects the legs, arms, hands, and feet, but lymphedema can also be found in the neck, torso, and elsewhere. While some of the symptoms of lymphedema are cosmetic, it can also impact mobility, cause psychological distress, and lead to severe complications such as infections, ulcers, and a rare form of cancer called lymphangiosarcoma.

Lymphedema is a chronic, progressive health condition, so seeking prompt medical evaluation if you notice symptoms is crucial. The earlier treatment begins, the better the prognosis is and the lower the chances of complications are.

JAG Physical Therapy is your compassionate local source for lymphedema treatment in NJ, NY, and PA. Schedule an appointment today to get started on the road to relief or read further about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of lymphedema.

Causes of Lymphedema

Any medical event that damages the lymphatic system can eventually lead to lymphedema. Common causes include removal of lymph nodes during surgery, particularly during mastectomies for breast cancer, radiation therapy, infections, traumatic injury, and genetic factors.

Cellulitis and parasitic infections such as filariasis can cause inflammation in lymphatic vessels, ultimately causing lymphedema, as can cancerous tumors pressing on or blocking the vessels. Lymphedema can also result from engaging in prolonged standing, such as during military basic training.

Some people may be born with lymphedema or spontaneously develop the condition during puberty or in adulthood, particularly when they are over the age of 35. This is referred to as primary lymphedema and occurs when someone has a congenitally weak lymphatic system. Whether the cause is a specific medical issue or the lymphedema is primary, the treatment options are the same.

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Symptoms of Lymphedema

The most characteristic symptom of lymphedema is persistent swelling in the affected area, which may be mild or severe. Arms and legs affected by lymphedema may also feel heavy due to accumulation of lymphatic fluid, there may be a sensation of tightness or restricted range of motion, and clothing and jewelry may fit differently due to the swelling. Skin in the affected area may become thicker or hard, and there may be a general sensation of discomfort, aching, or fatigue.

Diagnosis of Lymphedema

When you see a doctor to be evaluated for lymphedema, you will first need to provide any relevant information from your medical history, such as surgeries, major injuries, infections, or radiation treatment that may lead to lymphatic system changes. A physical examination will be needed, which will include checking for signs of swelling, changes in the skin, and comparisons between affected and unaffected areas. Finally, your doctor may recommend certain kinds of imaging and functional testing, such as ultrasound, MRI, or more specialized forms of imaging like lymphoscintigraphy (using small quantities of gamma radiation to map the lymph nodes).

There are other conditions that can cause swelling in the limbs, and some of them are very serious, such as blood clots and heart failure. Therefore, your doctor will also make sure to rule these out before diagnosing you with lymphedema.

Treatment and Management of Lymphedema

There is no cure for lymphedema, but minimally-invasive management can restore normal function to the lymphatic system and relieve symptoms greatly or fully. At JAG PT, our experienced therapy team can use a variety of methods to treat your lymphedema, such as manual therapy modalities like manual lymphatic drainage and recommending specific exercises to restore mobility and lymphatic flow.

Lifestyle modifications such as injury prevention may also be used to make sure no further damage occurs. In some instances, medication or even surgery may be recommended, but many patients see effective results with a targeted regimen from a certified lymphedema therapist.

Prevention of Lymphedema

The foremost aspect of preventing lymphedema is education and awareness. Knowing the risk factors and signs, particularly before undergoing surgery, is crucial. Moreover, post-surgical precautions, such as avoiding blood pressure measurements or blood draws and gradually returning to exercise, help to lower risk. Proper skin care, such as using moisturizer, is also helpful to individuals who are at risk of lymphedema, and compression garments can be useful in situations such as air travel.

Book an appointment now at your local JAG PT clinic in New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania or contact us today for more information on our lymphedema treatment program.

JAG PT Lymphedema Therapy Locations