Thursday, May 30, 2024

Lymphedema (Complete Decongestive) Therapy

Lymphedema Therapy is also know as Complete Decongestive Therapy

Sarah Driediger is a Registered Massage Therapist and a LANA Certified Lymphedema Therapist. She is up to date on the latest education and treatment methods for lymphedema. LANA is the Lymphology Association of North America and to be certified by them means writing an exam to prove one is knowledgeable and able to treat people with Lymphedema. Her knowledge and experience allow her to customize your treatment to fit you and your lifestyle. Complete Decongestive Therapy can greatly improve your quality of life, giving you the ability to do what you love.

What is Lymphedema?

Swelling is a normal part of the inflammatory/healing process. What allows for your immune cells to move into an area of injury, also allows for excess fluid to move out of your capillaries. This excess fluid stays in your tissue until your lymphatic system can collect it and bring it back to your heart and into your circulatory system again.

The lymphatic system consists of lymph capillaries, lymph ducts, and lymph nodes. The fluid that collects in your tissue from your capillaries is reabsorbed by your lymph capillaries. Through the capillaries own contraction system called lymphangio activity and the contraction of large muscles around the capillaries, the lymph travels against gravity and is deposited back into your blood next to your heart.

Lymphedema is the build up of protein rich fluid in the limbs, abdomen, genitalia, face, and neck. Lymphedema occurs when there is a problem with the lymphatic system. The problem can arise when there is so much fluid that the lymphatic system cannot keep up or when the lymphatic system is damaged in some way. Often cancer treatments can cause the damage of the lymphatic system.  The swelling that happens because of this is usually chronic and needs lifetime management. Complete Decongestive Therapy can help you manage Lymphedema and improve your quality of life.

What is Complete Decongestive Therapy?

Complete Decongestive therapy consists of two phases: the decongestion phase and the maintenance phase. These two phases blend into each other to form a treatment that works with the patient and the Certified Lymphedema Therapist.

During the Intensive phase the Certified Lymphedema Therapist will do the manual lymph drainage, use compression bandages, teach exercises, and teach appropriate skin care. The CLT will also begin teaching how to do self manual lymph drainage and put on their own compression bandages.

The swelling will be measured and once the decrease in swelling has plateaued, maintenance phase begins. The patient will be fitted with a compression garment that will replace the bandages that they have been using between treatments. The intensive treatments are no longer needed unless there is a flareup. Bi-yearly checkups are recommended. During the maintenance phase, exercising the affected limb becomes more important. This is what keeps the excess fluid from accumulating and encourages the lymphatic system to drain the fluid.

Manual Lymph Drainage

MLD sessions commonly last between 45 and 60 minutes. The amount of time spent on the MLD treatment depends on the severity and the extent of the lymphedema. MLD increases lymphangio activity and increases reabsorption of protein-rich fluid. MLD is used to reroute fluid around blocked regions (removed lymph nodes) and into healthy lymphatic regions and lymph nodes.


Compression bandaging for lymphedema reduces filtration of fluid into tissue, prevent re-accumulation of evacuated edema fluid, improves efficiency of muscle and joint pumps, and assists in the breakdown of fibrotic tissue.


Exercise is preformed with the compression system in place. It promotes joint and muscle pumps and encourages lymphatic and venous return.

Skin and Nail Care

Meticulous nail and skin care maintains the integrity of the skin and decreases the incidence of infections.

For more information see the Lymphedema Association of Manitoba

If you think you have lymphedema talk to your doctor and make an appointment with here, at Achieve Massage Therapy

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