Memorial Lymphedema Treatment Program

The Memorial Lymphedema Treatment Program is a comprehensive approach to the treatment of lymphedema based on the protocol of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). The treatment consists of five components: Manual Lymph Drainage, compression bandaging, exercise, skin care and wearing of an elastic garment once the lymphedema is under control. Therapists are certified in CDP by the Lerner Academy of Lymphatic Studies. For more information, call 574-647-1068 or 888-284-1068.

For additional information on "Lymphedema after Breast Cancer Surgery," read this education article by Thomas Poulin, M.D. and Roger Klauer, M.D.

What is lymphedema?

Lymphedema is the swelling of a particular area of the body (most commonly the arms and legs) due to an abnormal accumulation of lymph, a clear, colorless fluid that removes bacteria, viruses and waste products from the body. When the flow of lymph is obstructed, it backs up into your body’s tissues, causing swelling of the extremities.

There are two types of lymphedema. Primary lymphedema occurs without any obvious or known cause. Secondary lymphedema is more common, and is caused by injury, scarring or the surgical removal of lymph nodes, as is often required for the diagnosis and treatment of many kinds of cancer.

How do you treat lymphedema?

Although lymphedema is a chronic condition, it can be treated and controlled. The Memorial Lymphedema Treatment Program offers expert care to help you manage lymphedema. The most effective approach is complete decongestive therapy (CDT), which should be started as soon as possible after diagnosis. The length of the treatment, which consists of an active and a maintenance phase, depends on the severity and duration of the lymphedema. Treatment options may include:

  • Manual lymph drainage (a form of light massage that moves lymph fluid through the body)
  • Compression bandaging
  • Exercise
  • Skin care
  • An elastic garment to be worn once the swelling is under control
  • Education for all lymphedema and post-biopsy patients

Types of Lymphedema Treated

  • Upper extremity and chest wall swelling due to cancer
  • Face and neck swelling due to head and neck cancer
  • Lower extremity swelling due to primary or secondary causes

How are therapists certified?

Our therapists are certified in Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) and Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) by Klose Norton Training and Consulting, Inc. They also work closely with the Memorial Regional Cancer Center and are very sensitive to the needs of oncology patients.