Lymph vessels drain lymph fluids from various tissues throughout the body. When your lymph vessels are unable to drain properly, protein-rich fluid accumulates in your tissues, causing them to swell. This condition is known as lymphedema.
Swelling usually occurs in the arms and legs, though it can also appear in the face, torso, abdomen or genital area.
Other symptoms of lymphedema may include:
- A heavy or tight feeling
- A limited range of motion
- Hardening or tightening of the skin
- Aching or discomfort
Lymphedema can affect your daily functioning and lead to medical complications if left untreated. Once present, lymphedema will not go away on its own.
UC Irvine Health lymphedema-certified occupational and physical therapists work with you to treat the condition and determine an effective treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Our goal is to alleviate your pain and discomfort, and help you return your normal lifestyle.
There are several techniques that can be used to treat lymphedema.
Complete decongestive therapy (CDT) may include:
- Manual lymph drainage (MLD). For this technique, a therapist manually stimulates lymph vessel activity by gently and slowly moving the fluid from the swollen body part.
- Compression therapy. To prevent the accumulation of lymph fluid that has been removed during a therapy session, we apply special short-stretch bandages to the swollen body part.
- Customized exercise program. Your therapist will design a customized exercise plan to help you increase your range of motion and minimize the pain and discomfort.
- Garments. Once the swelling has decreased, wearing a compression garment daily will help prevent the fluid from returning. Your therapist will measure the affected body part to order a garment that is specifically tailored for you. It is essential that you wear the garment every day and replace as needed, for maximum effectiveness.
- Skin care. The skin where lymphedema appears is at risk for infections and can be very dry. Your therapist will recommend a skin care routine to help moisturize your skin and prevent complications.
Make an appointment
If you are suffering from lymphedema, call our therapists for a consultation at 714-456-5571.
Authorization and pre-certification of insurance may be needed. Not all services may be authorized under insurance plans.