What Can I Expect When Being Treated for Lymphedema

August 22, 2022

If you've been diagnosed with lymphedema (or suspect you have it), a physical therapist can help. As a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Certified Lymphedema Therapist (LMT), I have advanced training in this area of practice. So I thought it would be helpful for me to explain what I do when treating someone for lymphedema.

Before you begin lymphedema PT, it is vital that you are cleared by your physician to ensure your safety and optimal health. Oftentimes, I will reach out to your physician (oncologist, etc.) to open the lines of communication.

On your first visit, I will evaluate you from head to toe. We will thoroughly discuss your health history, any health concerns, and your goals for physical therapy. I will take some baseline measurements that we can use to track your progress through the course of treatments.

Each visit I will administer what’s known as manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). This manual therapy technique uses a series of light pressure strokes of mainly circular movements that gently stretch the skin to help lymph fluid move freely throughout the body. Many people find MLD to be very relaxing. It also helps with pain relief. Additionally, I will provide you with various exercises to further reinforce correct lymphatic flow and drainage. These can be things like diaphragmatic breathing and basic repeated pain-free movements.

Based on your condition, we can look into compression garments or bandaging with what is known as short stretch bandages. These are applied to help maintain limb volume, shape, and prevent accumulation of lymph fluid in between your sessions.

I will also teach you all about your condition, including the anatomy and physiology behind it. Patient education is a huge component of lymphatic management. This can include dietary recommendations, skin care, exercise instruction, and tips on how you can improve your health and prevent any setbacks.

Under Dr. Lisa Ochman’s mentorship and through my training at the Norton School of Lymphatic Therapy, I’ve learned that the earlier one begins treatment for lymphedema, the better one’s prognosis. For example, if you receive a breast cancer diagnosis, it is recommended that you schedule an evaluation for baseline measurements with a Certified Lymphedema Therapist, even before you begin cancer treatment, in order to carefully monitor any changes to your tissues as you progress through your course of care.

To learn more about how lymphedema PT can help you, click here

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Dr. Molly Weingart

Physical Therapist
Molly Weingart is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) who specializes in pelvic health, women's health, lymphedema treatment, and general orthopedics. She works at Activcore in Princeton, New Jersey, located just 2 miles from Princeton University. Molly believes in tailoring each patient’s treatment to fit that individual’s goals and lifestyle.
Read more

MORE BLOGS BY AUTHOR

All Blog Posts

Why Does My Physical Therapist Want To Know If Anything Has Ever Happened to My Abdomen?

Many of the patients I treat are coming to physical therapy for care of pelvic pain, low back pain or both. And one of the most useful things they can tell me during their evaluation or session is if, when and where they had an abdominal surgery, injury, or pregnancy history. Even if it was deemed minor and many years ago.

LEARN More

What On Earth Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?!!!

This is one of the most common questions I hear as a pelvic trained physical therapist. Whether it’s from patients at their initial PT session, or it’s from random people at a social setting, I find myself answering this question over and over again whenever I tell someone about my unique area of study. The short answer is: pelvic floor physical therapy is here to care for any condition affecting the bowel, bladder, pelvic pain, and sexual function of all genders at any age in development.

LEARN More

Free Webinar: An Introduction to Urinary Incontinence and How Pelvic Floor PT Can Help

Do you need to rush to the bathroom when you hear running water or right after you park your car in the driveway? Ever pee, even a little, when you sneeze, cough, laugh, run, or jump? Do you have difficulty starting your stream of urine or need to go again right after you’ve peed? Check out this free webinar to learn how to control this.

LEARN More

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy for Cancer: My Perspective as a PT (and a Patient)

While only a part of my life’s story, I had breast cancer in 2017. I am grateful to report I’ve been in remission since October of the same year. I was lucky enough to have already been accepted to PT school and knew the need to have PT to prepare for surgery, regain function and strength after my surgeries, and combat the horrid fatigue that was associated with chemotherapy. Prior to my double mastectomy, I was a very flexible yoga practitioner. After my double mastectomy, I could not lift my arm above my shoulder.

LEARN More

FREE WEBINAR: Pelvic Health Physical Therapy and Its Implications in Breast Cancer Recovery

If you have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, have undergone treatment, or you are a cancer survivor or thriver, check out this free one-hour Zoom webinar about how breast cancer impacts your pelvic health and how physical therapy can address these impairments.

LEARN More

How Can A Physical Therapist Help Treat Lymphedema

I am thrilled to add lymphedema management to my list of physical therapy service offerings. When I joined the staff at Activcore, I had the chance to observe a lymphedema trained specialist, Dr. Lisa Ochman. She applied lymphatic drainage in ways that were incredibly creative and effective.

LEARN More

What Can I Expect When Being Treated for Lymphedema

If you've been diagnosed with lymphedema (or suspect you have it), a physical therapist can help. As a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Certified Lymphedema Therapist (LMT), I have advanced training in this area of practice. So I thought it would be helpful for me to explain what I do when treating someone for lymphedema.

LEARN More