Lymphedema is a swelling of a body part (arm, leg, breast / trunk, head, face & neck, or genitals). It is caused by an abnormal accumulation of fluid, proteins and cellular waste in the tissues under the skin. Lymphedema is caused by an imbalance between the normal amount of lymph fluid and reduced capacity that the vessels are about to transport. This results in accumulation of protein-rich fluid.
It can occur when there is a disruption in the lymphatic system such as:
- Failure of the lymph vessels to develop properly and you are born with abnormalities in the lymphatic system – known as Primary Lymphedema
- Damage to lymph vessels by trauma, surgery, radiation or infection – known as Secondary Lymphedema
- Removal or destruction of lymph nodes, usually as a result of cancer treatment (surgery and/or radiation)
Symptoms of Lymphedema include:
- Fullness, heaviness and achiness sensation in the limb
- Skin feeling tight
- Decreased flexibility
- Swelling in a specific area
- Redness – the appearance of redness, rashes or heat in the at-risk limb
- Thickening of the skin
- Hardening of the limb
- Leaking of lymph through the skin
- Excessive swelling
Are You At Risk?
Lymphedema most commonly follows a surgical procedure in which there has been a removal or disruption of the lymph nodes or vessels.
If you have been exposed to any of the following procedures or situations, you may be at risk for developing Lymphedema.
- Biopsy of Inguinal (groin) or Axillary (armpit) lymph nodes
- Breast surgery or prostate surgery
- Radiation or chemotherapy treatment
- Other surgery involving lymph nodes
- Broken limbs from trauma
- Hernia repair
- Venous insufficiency
- Severe infections
- Other medical procedure involving the lymphatic system
- Studies show there is a 30% chance of developing Lymphedema after breast cancer treatment
Treatment for Lymphedema
Lymphedema is not curable, but is controllable. The aim of treatment is to improve appearance, increase function, decrease the amount of fluid in an area, decrease heaviness / achiness, and prevent further progression of the swelling. Treatment can be very effective and can greatly improve quality of life. The best and most effective treatment for Lymphedema is Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), which has 5 major components:
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) – a gentle massage technique to open the collateral lymphatic pathways to assist in moving the access fluid to where the lymph system is functioning.
- Compression Therapy / Bandaging and Garments – an essential component or Lymphedema management. Keeping the limb wrapped in a multi-layer low-stretch bandage during treatment can decrease the excess fluid and help to soften the tissues. After treatment, a strong gradient compression stocking or sleeve can help in maintaining results.
- Exercising according to recommended CDT protocols can help stimulate the lymphatic system to get fluid moving.
- Skin and Nail Care – crucial on the affected limb to prevent skin cracking. Using low pH soaps and lotions can help protect against bacterial infections, which can lead to cellulitis.
- Comprehensive Health Management and excellent nutrition is also important. Controlling weight is necessary as studies have found that obesity aggravates Lymphedema.
Your Lymphedema Therapist: Beth Elliott, R.M.T, CLT-LANA
- Registered Massage Therapist since 1996
- Certified Lymphedema Therapist – CLT – 135 hour extensive training in Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) with Klose Training – Corning, NY
- LANA Certified in Lymphedema
- Specializing in Breast Cancer related Lymphedema
- Examiner for OSCE examinations with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO)
Who are Certified Lymphedema Therapists – LANA?
CLT-LANA therapists are healthcare professionals who have successfully passed a comprehensive examination by demonstrating knowledge about the lymphatic system and Lymphedema management. CLT-LANA credentials confirm for patients and referring medical providers that the therapist has the highest level of competency in the profession and has remained current with advancements in the field.
Niagara Lymphedema Therapy / Complete Decongestive Therapy Rates
1½ Hour Initial Assessment: $125
1 Hour Follow-Up Appointment: $90
This therapy can be covered under Extended Health Benefits under Massage TherapyHealth History Form:
All new patients will need to complete a health history form. Click here for the form.Cancellation Policy:
There is a $25.00 charge for the first missed appointment, or appointments cancelled with less than 24 hrs notice. There will be a full treatment charge for the 2nd and subsequent missed appointments. The 30-75 min. time slot is reserved specifically for you. If you are unable to keep your appointment please notify the office at least 24 hrs before your appointment to enable others to attend a treatment. If you are receiving treatment resulting from an automobile accident that is covered by an insurance claim, any missed appointments will be billed to you personally.