Rehab Insights is a weekly blog written by Burke Rehabilitation professionals to offer practical information for patients, families and the community. Its goal is to educate the reader on relevant topics in rehabilitation, general health and wellness.

What is Lymphedema--and How Can it Be Treated?

October 24, 2017

Did you know that up to 10 million Americans, and hundreds of millions worldwide, suffer from lymphedema, a chronic swelling?

It happens when there is a blockage of the lymph nodes, making it hard for lymphatic fluid to drain properly. According to the Lymphatic Education and Research Network, more people suffer from these diseases in the US than suffer from Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, ALS, Parkinson's disease, and AIDS--combined.

There are two types of lymphedema. The condition can either be present at birth, with symptoms showing up in childhood or puberty, or happen following surgery from various types of cancers including breast, bladder bone, head, neck, gynecologic or prostate.

Lymphedema can range from mild to severe. It’s unsightly due to the swelling of the limbs affected and puts patients at increased risk of infections and pain. Fortunately, lymphedema isn’t that hard to treat if caught early, so it really is important to get the right care.

In Burke’s Lymphedema Program, part of the Outpatient Department, certified lymphatic therapists use the Complete Decongestive Therapy approach (CDT) with their lymphedema patients. This therapy can give patients a restored quality of life. The initial evaluation consists of an orthopedic and lymph assessment, which results in a truly comprehensive care plan.

Treatment may include:

  • manual lymphatic drainage
  • multilayer compression bandaging
  • exercises
  • compression garment measuring and fitting
  • extensive patient education
  • home program plans

Each treatment plan is tailored to the patient’s specific needs, with a goal of improving quality of life and function.

The program is conveniently offered at the Main Campus in White Plains and at the Mamaroneck and Yonkers Clinics. For more information, please call (914) 597-2198.

--Leslie Feldman 

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Burke's Rehab Insights blog is intended to provide general information about rehabilitation and other health care topics. It should not take the place of medical care. Burke staff cannot comment on individual medical cases or give medical advice.

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