Swelling can be caused by a variety of things – a sprain, a bee sting, pregnancy, a surgical procedure, radiation treatments, even some medications. Normal swelling is also called edema, and it happens when your small blood vessels become “leaky” and fluid builds up in nearby tissues. It can be temporary, or a symptom of an underlying disease. Usually edema can be treated and completely cured. Swelling can also occur when the heart and/or lungs are not functioning at their top level. If the heart and lungs can’t pump the fluid throughout the entire body, it could result in peripheral edema.
When swelling is caused by hereditary reasons, cancer, trauma to your lymphatic system, or an infection, it is referred to as lymphedema. Lymphedema is an abnormal accumulation of fluid, and it causes chronic inflammation. Lymphedema can affect one or more extremities including your arms and legs, your head and neck, or your abdominal area. It’s a disease that cannot be cured, and it can affect your life in many ways: physically, emotionally, or socially. The good news is that with early diagnosis, education, and diligent care, lymphedema can be managed to minimize the pain and disruption of your daily life.
How can you get help? A certified lymphedema therapist (CLT) can provide the care and education to manage your lymphedema or resolve your edema. You may take part in Complete Decongestive Therapy with your therapist. Complete Decongestive Therapy consists of manual lymphatic drainage which is a light touch massage, compression with short stretch bandaging and eventually custom garments, exercise which activates the muscles in our body to act like an additional pump for lymphatic movement, skin and nail care to help prevent skin breakdown and possible infection, education on self-care, and comprehensive health management, all based on your individual needs. These components will work together to reduce the swelling, improve the mobility of your affected limb, decrease your chance of recurring infections, and overall, improve your quality of life.
Our Occupational Therapist in Valley City, Megan Beck is a certified lymphedema therapist and is looking forward to helping you reduce the swelling and to manage your day to day life while decreasing the impact that arises from lymphedema and swelling.
For more information or to set up an appointment, please call (701) 890-7900.