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Baylor Health Care System > Physicians & Locations > Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation > News > Lymphedema Treatment at BIR Outpatient Clinics

Lymphedema Treatment at BIR Outpatient Clinics 

If you are experiencing swelling in your arm, leg or other body parts and have reason to believe it may be lymphedema, we have specially trained therapists who can help.

Lymphedema is the accumulation of protein rich fluid or swelling of a body part, most often affecting the arm or the leg. Once present, this chronic condition continues to progress compromising physical functioning, loss of ability to work or engage in social activities, embarrassment due to disfigurement.

Primary lymphedema is caused by congenital malformation of the lymphatic system and primarily affects the lower legs. Secondary lymphedema is more common and often the result of surgery or cancer treatment.

In the early stages, swelling of the affected area may be temporarily reduced by simple elevation of the limb. This condition will progress to increased swelling of the affected limb if left untreated. Hardening of the tissues may occur. Fungal infection, weeping of fluid from the leg, and an increase in limb size are all symptoms of lymphedema.

Lymphedema can be treated by a certified Lymphedema therapist. The treatment program uses a four step process referred to as Complete Decongestive Therapy for the control of lymphedema:

  • Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is a gentle massage technique that redirects lymphatic circulation and facilitates the removal of excess fluid from the tissue and reducing fluid.
  • Compression Therapy involves a very precise bandaging technique of the affected limb using specialized bandages and other materials to prevent re-accumulation of evacuated lymph fluid.
  • Exercise and Breathing Techniques further promotes lymph circulation by activating the muscle pumps.
  • Skin Care and Hygiene instruction, important in minimizing risk for recurrent infection.

 Possible impact of lymphedema on the patient: 

  • Swollen limb or body part
  • Condition generally worsens over time
  • Heaviness and limitation of motion
  • Repeated episodes of infection
  • Skin thickening and lymph leakage through the skin
  • Cosmetic problems which may include difficulty finding clothes and shoes that fit
  • Multiple hospitalizations
  • Altered lifestyle which may include limiting sun and heat exposure
  • Increased medical expenses
  • General depression and decline of the patient’s life and health can occur

Home Care

Lymphedema therapists instruct the patient in home exercise, diaphragmatic breathing, self MLD and self-bandaging. At the end of treatment, the patient may be referred for a compression garment.

For more information on BIR’s Outpatient Lymphedmea Program, please call the Mesquite clinic at 972.698.1140  or the Frisco clinic at 972.712.2669.