March is National Lymphedema Awareness Month. You have probably heard of lymphedema and have a general idea of what it is. The overall perception regarding lymphedema is that it is associated with cancer, which is not always the case. We asked our own specialist Vicki Magnan, OTR, to discuss lymphedema on a broader spectrum and how it can be managed.
The lymphatic system does a great deal more than fight off the flu bug; it is a filtering system. In simple terms, it’s the plumbing for your body. Other than filtering out toxins, your lymphatic system creates white blood cells and lymphocytes to fight against foreign invaders, including cancer cells. Though cancer, cancer-related surgeries and treatments may be the culprit to some lymphedemas, other diagnoses have a large impact on the lymphatic system.
“Over the past few years, I’ve been treating more patients with varying diagnoses that one might not think is the normal for a lymphedema therapist,” Magnan says. “Though a person may not have visible swelling, it still can occur at a micro level and can be just as painful and destructive.”
Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Lyme’s disease are just a few examples of diagnoses that get relief from specialized manual therapies. This is known as Manual Lyphatic Drainage (MLD), which includes a comprehensive home program for patients to carry over lymph stimulation.” This treatment not only helps reduce edematous areas (areas with lots of swelling or edema) and filter out toxins, but it also increases the happy hormones of seratonin, dopamine, and endorphin in the brain. This is especially important for those with chronic illness.
Patients that see Vicki Magnan, OTR, usually have chronic swelling issues that have turned into a disease process. At times, lymphedema will occur after having a surgery. Magnan’s goal is to educate those that undergo surgical procedures to decrease the risk of developing edema and lymphedema post-surgically.
“Edema is a symptom that can be resolved in time, but lymphedema is a disease process that causes permanent damage.” Says Magnan, “Those with chronic pain often find PT Plus for their unique treatment approaches, and lymphatic treatment in the combination are effective tools for providing relief.”
In addition, it is important that the treatment received by Vicki Magnan, OTR, is only successful when the person seeking treatment is under the care of a physician. Communication between the patient, their physician and Vicki is key. Even people without a chronic illness can benefit from MLD, Magnan explains, “Those that experience migraine headaches receive noticeable relief from a combination of specialized manual therapies and lymph stimulation/toxin clearing treatment. Contact the staff at PT Plus to learn more.