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Treating Lymphedema: A Way Forward

  • Category: News, Lymphedema
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  • Written By: Allied Services Integrated Health
Treating Lymphedema: A Way Forward

March 6 each year marks World Lymphedema Day. This annual advocate-driven celebration was established in 2016 by the United States Senate in response to a bill written by the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN). In its 9th year, World Lymphedema Day is truly a cause for celebration, thanks to the passing of the Lymphedema Treatment Act (LTA).

Lymphedema is an abnormal swelling of the arm, leg, or other body part due to an excessive buildup of fluid called lymph. In the U.S. today, one-third of all patients develop lymphedema after mastectomy. This condition affects both men and women who receive lymph node dissection, radiation, injury, or infection. Some individuals may be born with the swelling; others get it for no apparent reason.

Symptoms of lymphedema include swelling of the head, trunk, abdomen, genitals, limb, or part of a limb. Other symptoms include a feeling of heaviness in the limb, the skin feeling tight, a decrease in the flexibility of the limb, and difficulty fitting into clothing.

Although there is no cure for lymphedema, treatment can effectively reduce symptoms and increase mobility and quality of life for people living with the condition.

Treatment for lymphedema can include:

  • Manual lymph drainage (MLD) by a Certified Lymphedema Therapist to improve the flow of lymphatic fluid toward the heart, away from the affected limb.
  • Therapeutic exercises to promote movement of lymphatic fluid out of the affected areas of the body.
  • Patient education about proper skin/nail care, infection prevention, lymphedema precautions, and other self-management techniques. When your lymphatic system is compromised, it is more prone to infections. Moisturizing and keeping the skin clean can help to limit or prevent infections.
  • Compression bandages are worn to help control swelling.

Historically, Medicare and many other insurance policies have not covered one of the critical components of lymphedema treatment, the medically, doctor-prescribed compression supplies used daily in lymphedema treatment. Lack of access to compression supplies can lead to recurring infections and progressive degradation of the patient’s condition.

With the passing of the Lymphedema Treatment Act into federal law passed in December 2023, that changed for the better. The LTA went into effect in January of this year to improve insurance coverage for the compression supplies that are the cornerstone of lymphedema treatment. The LTA is still very new; healthcare providers are being educated on what items are covered and how coverage operates. For more information about the LTA and how it impacts you, visit

If you or someone you love is living with Lymphedema, physical therapy and patient education can help to relieve symptoms, increase mobility, and improve quality of life. Speak with your physician for a referral to a Certified Lymphedema Therapist.

Diane Jason, OTR/L is a Lymphedema Association of North America (LANA) Certified Lymphedema Therapist. 

Lymphedema Treatment at Allied Services

The lymphedema program at Allied Services provides comprehensive rehab care to patients with acute to chronic lymphedema. Our staff has attended advanced training and several are certified in the Vodder Technique, as well as by the Lymphedema Association of North America (LANA).

To get started, call 570.348.1360 today or learn more here.