Lymphedema/Post Oncological

Following participation in treatment for cancer, secondary conditions may arise that contribute to pain and difficulty with returning to normal daily activities.  Common diagnoses include, but are not limited to, lymphedema, axillary cording, myofascial pain syndrome post mastectomy or lumpectomy, postural syndrome, balance disorder associated with peripheral neuropathy following chemotherapy, scar tissue restriction, as well as tension headaches.

Our therapists utilize a hands-on approach with one on one treatments sessions in order to provide individualized treatment sessions and assist with regaining normal mobility.  Once the cancer is treated, let us help you get back to the activities you enjoy with the least restriction possible.

What Is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an accumulation of fluids and protein in the tissue that develops as a result of a malfunction of the lymphatic system. Lymphedema is a chronic condition that causes painful swelling in the legs, arms, face, or trunk.

How Lymphedema Therapy Can Help

Lymphedema therapy can help provide relief from swelling as well as training to help manage symptoms in everyday life. We use a combination of treatment methods, including:

Complete Decongestive Therapy:

Phase one includes

  • Manual lymph drainage - a gentle technique that stimulates the lymphatic vessels in order to improve the vessel activity and assist with moving fluid out of the congested limb.
  • Compression wrapping - utilizing specific bandages to provide graded compression to decongest the limb. The wrapping will stay on consistently until the patient's next visit when they will be re-wrapped. This phase of treatment must be consistent in order to reduce the size of the limb, not make it smaller.
  • Exercises - designed to help the muscular system pump lymph fluid away from the affected area;
  • Training in a home management program.

Phase two includes

  • Transition to independent maintenance program
    • Includes recommendation on type of compression garment in order to maintain size of decongested limb
      • May include daytime and/ or nighttime compression garments
  • Transition to independence with self-manual lymph drainage
  • Transition to independence with home exercise program

At South Asheville

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What You May Expect During Your Lymphedema Therapy Session:

Lymphedema treatment utilizes Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), a combination treatment that includes:

  • Evaluation:
    • A comprehensive evaluation will be performed to collect objective information on the current status of the patient. This includes but is not limited to:
      • Range of motion measurements
      • Circumferential measurements of the involved and uninvolved limbs in order to objectively gain an understanding of the amount of fluid accumulation
      • Strength measurements
      • Functional movement analysis
      • Skin integrity check
      • Postural assessment
    • After the evaluation is completed the plan of care will be discussed with the patient based on the findings from the evaluation.
      • If it is decided that the patient will benefit from complete decongestive therapy, then there will be a list of supplies provided to the patient that they will need to purchase in order to participate in the compression bandaging portion of the treatment.
      • If compression bandaging is not necessary the patient may be recommended to participate in a less aggressive program that utilizes only manual lymph drainage, potential use of kinesiotaping, use of compression garment and exercise.

Lymphedema Resources

For more information on lymphedema physical therapy, check out

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact us.