While lymphedema cannot be cured, it can be treated effectively.
We base each patient’s treatment plan on individual needs and medical history. Currently, the most effective and least invasive approach recommended by physicians is complete decongestive therapy (CDT).
Following a thorough assessment, multiple therapy sessions per week may be recommended. These treatments may include:
Hygiene and Topical Skin Care
Lymphedema patients are at increased risk of infection, making education in skin care techniques imperative. We teach meticulous skin and nail care and the use of pH-balanced skin lotions that eliminate bacterial and fungal growth.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage
This light touch massage is used to help open lymph channels and allow lymphatic fluid to flow from the swollen area. Effective in promoting wound healing in areas of edema, or swelling, this also helps break fibrotic tissue resulting from chronic edema.
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) facilitates reabsorption of large protein molecules found in lymph fluid and increases the frequency of lymph vessel contraction. MLD consists of specific light, rhythmic pressure along lymphatic pathways that empties and releases obstructive lymph vessels, stimulating the movement of lymph fluid along the vessel pathway.
Bandaging and Compression
Bandaging follows each manual lymphatic drainage session. Bandages are minimally elastic and prevent lymph fluid from re-entering the affected arm or leg. When lymphedema is reduced to an acceptable level, patients are custom-fitted with an elastic compression garment.
Contraindications for Manual Lymphatic Drainage
- Congestive heart failure
- Local or acute infection with fever or undiagnosed swelling
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Presence of a malignant tumor
Therapeutic Exercise Instruction
Movement of the affected extremity is vital to the reduction of edema. There are simple exercises that allow muscle contractions to assist in pumping excess fluid out of the body via veins and lymphatic vessels. Our therapists work with patients to exercise their limbs while using compression bandages. Exercise enhances the compression function of bandages.
To promote optimal edema control, it is important for patients to maintain a healthy weight that is in proportion to their body height and frame. We also recommend that patients limit their intake of salt and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Our therapists provide further nutrition information over the course of the therapy.
Referrals and Scheduling
To refer a patient for treatment, call (713) 222-CARE.
Lymphedema management is available throughout the greater Houston area, including at the following locations: