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Lymphedema Management

Lowell General Hospital offers the only lymphedema management program in the Merrimack Valley area. Our patients have access to the most effective care available for lymphedema.

The lymphatic system is part of the body's circulatory system. Its vessels and ducts help transport protein-rich fluid known as lymph throughout the body. The lymphatic system moves this fluid from tissues back into the blood system. It also produces disease-fighting white blood cells as part of the body's immune system.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an abnormal accumulation of lymphatic fluid which results in swelling of an extremity, or other body part. It can be caused by an impaired or damaged lymphatic system and can lead to fibrosis (hardening of the skin), cosmetic deformity, increased risk for infection, decreased range of motion and pain.

Types of Lymphedema

  • Primary lymphedema┬á- also known as congenital lymphedema can be present at birth or develop at the onset of puberty or in adulthood. There is no known cause for this type of lymphedema.
  • Secondary lymphedema┬á- results from a known factor that compromises the functioning of the lymphatic system. Examples include radiation, surgery, infection, or trauma.

Treatment

There is no cure for lymphedema, however, highly trained physical and occupational therapists provide each patient with the knowledge and resources to manage his/her condition. The therapists use Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) as the basis for treatment. CDT is considered the gold standard for lymphedema management and includes manual lymphatic drainage, compression bandaging, meticulous skin and nail care, remedial exercises, compression garments, and patient education. This comprehensive treatment approach focuses on active patient participation and ensures full understanding of the condition in order to promote independent lifelong management.

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