Treating Lymphedema – Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT)

The most important step in the treatment of Lymphedema is the initial diagnosis. Once identified, a progressive Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT) program can significantly reduce the symptoms related to this sometimes debilitating condition.

An effective program involves four elements which, together, work to reduce swelling, resulting in less pain, increased mobility and better overall well-being. Here are the four elements:

  1. Skincare: Since the skin in an affected area will likely be tight and inflamed, special care must be taken to tend to the area including gentle cleansing techniques, moisturizing and exfoliation.
  2. Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD): MLD is a specific light massage technique that helps stimulate lymph flow and redirect to properly functioning lymph nodes. The pressure exerted during MLD is very comfortable and involves a rhythmic light movement of the skin. Surprisingly, this gentle massage works effectively to re-route lymph flow around and away from blocked areas to healthy lymph nodes.
  3. Compression Therapy: After MLD therapy sessions, your practitioner will systematically bandage the affected area to help prevent fluid from re-accumulating in the area and help detour new fluid into a healthy pathway. You will be taught the correct way to apply the bandages, which play a critical role in helping to encourage your body to recognize and use the new lymph pathways, thus alleviating the edema, or lymph build-up, in the affected limb or body area.
  4. Exercise: Exercise plays a key role in the treatment of lymphedema. Not only will simple physical movement help increase strength and flexibility in affected joints, but the simple act of exercise will also improve circulation and stimulate lymph flow throughout your body.

These four elements work together to help re-train the body’s lymph drainage system to utilize the healthiest routes to the lymph nodes. Although there is no ‘cure’ for Lymphedema, a CDT program can be the best all-around form of managing the condition. For more information contact us at 902-425-7759.