Lymphedema Treatment & Therapy

Lymphedema is the abnormal accumulation of protein-rich lymphatic fluid due to a deficient or damaged lymphatic system.

Secondary lymphedema is commonly due to cancer treatment including lymph node removal or radiation; or may be due to trauma including burns, crush injuries, amputation or obesity.

Primary lymphedema occurs in individuals who were born with fewer lymph nodes than average or have anomalies in the structure of the lymphatic anatomy; this often presents following a severe injury.


  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage: a hands-on skin stretching technique (often referred to as massage) that re-routes the lymphatic fluid from the affected area to a healthy area that can process the fluid for elimination.
  • Wrapping the extremity with short-stretch bandages to aid in further reducing the fluid and preventing re-accumulation.
  • Education on precautions to help initially prevent lymphedema and cellulitis from occurring or worsening; as well as teaching self-wrapping and self manual lymphatic drainage.
  • Therapeutic exercise targeted at reducing fluid and regaining loss of motion, strength or function as a result of lymphedema.

When to speak to your Doctor about a referral to Physical Therapy for Lymphedema Treatment:

  • If you have had lymph nodes removed in any part of the body; radiation or injury to any lymph nodes.
  • If you have evident fluid accumulation or a feeling of "fullness" or heaviness in the area.
  • If you have lost motion, strength, function or have pain as a result of cancer treatment or trauma to the lymphatic system.
  • If you plan to fly and have had lymph nodes removed or damaged. A compression garment is advised to reduce the risk of developing lymphedema.
  • If you have had a severe injury or surgery and have chronic swelling past the expected time for this to resolve.
  • If you are in doubt...ask for an evaluation and we can determine if there are treatment options or education that can benefit you!