Lymphedema is a buildup of lymph fluid in the tissues just under the skin. This condition causes swelling (or edema), most often in the arms or legs, but in rare cases it can also affect the face, neck, abdomen or genitals. Lymphedema is a common disease, affecting an estimated three million Americans. UHS offers lymphedema treatment and therapy at our New York offices.
There are two types of lymphedema:
- Primary lymphedema occurs in people born with genes that put them at an increased risk of developing lymphedema. This lymphedema is caused by lymph nodes or vessels that are missing or not working the way they should. This type of lymphedema is rare and may appear at any age.
- Secondary (or acquired) lymphedema, the most common form of the disease, can be a result of surgery, radiation, trauma, infection, malignant tumors, or anything that changes or damages the normal, healthy lymph system. It can also appear at any age.
The symptoms of lymphedema vary among individuals and in severity. In addition, affected areas of the body may display the following:
- sensation of fullness or heaviness
- tightness and stretching of the skin
- reduced movement of the joints
- skin discoloration
- thickening and dryness of the skin
- lowered immunity in affected areas
There is no cure for lymphedema; however, there are effective treatment programs.
Lymphedema Therapy at UHS
Our lymphedema therapists in the Binghamton area have clinical training in Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), a gentle, noninvasive treatment that has proven effective for patients with mild to severe primary or secondary lymphedema. UHS Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation (at UHS Binghamton General Hospital, Park 1, Binghamton, NY) delivers lymphedema treatment to patients on an outpatient basis, while UHS Home Care provides CDT to patients in their home. CDT includes four components:
- Manual lymph drainage: a gentle massage technique that re-routes excess lymph fl uid into areas of the body where the lymph system is functioning properly.
- Compression therapy: after each manual lymph drainage session, multi-layered bandages are used to wrap the affected limb to prevent re-accumulation of fluid; compression garments are used in later phases of treatment.
- Decongestive exercises: with bandages (or compressiongarments) in place, patients exercise at a light to moderate level; exercises help to reduce swelling.
- Skin and nail care: to reduce the chance of bacterialand fungal growth, patients are instructed in proper cleansing, moisturizing and self-inspection of the skin.
Physician Referral Needed
Most insurance plans and Medicare cover CDT, but a physician referral to the program is needed. This referral may come from your primary care provider, oncologist or other physician.
Also of interest
UHS Home Care offers a wide variety of compression therapy and skin care products. Click here to learn more, or visit our convenient Johnson City location.
For more information about our lymphedema program, please contact one of the following:
UHS Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Binghamton, NY
UHS Binghamton General Hospital, Park 1
Home health care program:
UHS Home Care
(607) 763-5600 or (800) 295-2212