Service Provided By Baxter Regional Medical Center Outpatient Physical
Lymphedema is a chronic, progressive condition in which excessive lymph
builds up in the body causing swelling. This condition occurs when the
lymphatic system is damaged or lymph nodes are removed. Since the lymphatic
system is a part of the immune system, a compromised or non-functioning
lymphatic system places anyone who has lymphedema at a risk of repeated
Primary Lymphedema may be caused by congenital (hereditary) malformation
of the lymphatic system. Primary lymphedema is largely attributed to genetic causes.
Secondary Lymphedema is more common, affecting 2-3 million people in the
US. It is an acquired condition caused by a physical disruption to the
lymphatic system. Examples of secondary lymphedema include cancer treatment,
benign or malignant tumor growth, accident or trauma, surgery, infection,
obesity, chronic venous insufficiency, and filariasis infection (infiltration
by insects mainly in 3rd world countries).
Symptoms of lymphedema include unusual swelling, a feeling of heaviness
in the extremity, tightness of skin in the extremity or not being able
to wear normal size clothing due to swelling, certain types of skin changes
[thick rigid skin, lumpy/bumpy skin (papillomatosis), or ulceration of
skin with or without lymph fluid discharge], and small/underdeveloped
There is currently no cure for lymphedema, but the management of symptoms
is possible. Lymphedema can progress if untreated, leading to increased
swelling and pain, hardening of the skin, and recurrent infections (cellulitis).
Lymphedema can decrease mobility, coordination, the range of motion, and
the ability to perform day to day activities. It also may significantly
increase the cost of healthcare.
Management of lymphedema is usually achieved with a combination of therapist-directed
in clinic treatment and at home self-care. With effective treatment, patients
can manage their symptoms, minimize infections, improve their health and
quality of life, and reduce overall healthcare cost.
If you believe that you could benefit from our many medical services, ask
your primary care physician to refer you to the Baxter Regional Medical
Center outpatient Physical Therapy Department.
Call us at (870) 508-1560 to learn more or to schedule an appointment.