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Lymphedema, an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the soft tissues of the limbs, can cause abnormal swelling of the arms, legs, breast, abdomen, neck or head. There are two types of lymphedema – primary and secondary. Primary lymphedema may be present at birth or may develop in puberty or adulthood. Secondary lymphedema can develop as the result of surgery to remove lymph nodes/vessels, radiation, infection or trauma to or malformation of the lymphatic system. Trauma can include radiation, scarring or excision of lymph nodes, so it is commonly seen in patients who have undergone treatment for various types of cancer, especially breast cancer.

If left untreated, lymphedema can lead to:

  • Dramatic increase in size of affected extremities
  • Frequent infections
  • Skin changes
  • Discomfort
  • Loss of function and independence

Lymphedema cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. The best treatment for lymphedema is complete decongestive therapy, which involves the following components:

  • Manual lymph drainage
  • Compression therapy
  • Skin care
  • Exercise

Complete decongestive therapy is provided by certified lymphedema therapists who have undergone specialty training in the treatment of lymphedema. Treatment by a certified lymphedema therapist is usually covered by insurance plans with prior authorization and approval.

To learn more about lymphedema and treatment options, call or visit any of these locations:

Norton Medical Plaza 2 – St. Matthews
Suite 405
3991 Dutchmans Lane
Phone: (502) 899-6684
Fax: (502) 899-3455

Norton Medical Plaza – Brownsboro
Suite 300
4950 Norton Healthcare Blvd.
Jenni Haynes, P.T., CLT
Phone: (502) 394-6455
Fax: (502) 394-6351

Norton Healthcare Pavilion
Fourth floor
315 E. Broadway
Gwen Danhauer, OTR/L, CLT
Phone: (502) 629-4062
Fax: (502) 629-4059

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