Altru's lymphedema therapists have advanced training and are certified in lymphedema care and management. With 15 certified lymphedema therapists, Altru is the number one source for this treatment throughout the region. Altru's lymphedema specialists partner with the wound clinic and prosethetics and orthotics department to provide patients with comprehensive lymphedema management services.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is chronic swelling that occurs as a result of cancer, poor circulation or peripheral vascular disease (PVD). It may become evident following any trauma, infection or surgery that disrupts the flow of our natural body fluids. Men and women of all ages may be affected.

Among the more than three million breast cancer survivors, lymphedema is believed to have affected approximately 30 percent. Patients with prostate, uterine or cervical cancer or abdominal complications are at risk as well. Radiation, sports injury, tattooing and physical injury to the lymphatic pathways can also cause symptoms of lymphedema. Lymphedema may also be hereditary.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Swollen legs, ankles or arms
  • Heavy, tired, aching legs or arms
  • Burning, itching, or pain in extremities
  • Rapid increase in weight
  • Dry, flaky, and discolored skin
  • Clothing and shoes becomes tight
  • Inability to walk or move easily

How does Treatment Help?

  • Reduces size of affected area
  • Reduces likelihood of infections
  • Improves mobility
  • Offers the skills and knowledge to manage the condition and maintain everyday activity

What if it is Left Untreated?

If left untreated it can make a person more susceptible to infections from simple insect bites, animal scratches or minor cuts. These serious infections can result in cellulitis or lymphangitis (infection of the skin). Also, limbs may become enlarged, impairing the ability to participate in work and daily activities.

Treatment includes:

  • Light massage
  • Compression
  • Skin care
  • Exercise
  • Patient education for on-going self management

Additional Resources