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Complete Decongestive Therapy

Written by Amy Hall
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Complete Decongestive Therapy for Patients with Lymphedema

Complete decongestive therapy includes a number of points that work together as a whole system. Decongestive therapy is considered to be physical medicine and rehabilitation. It is a special treatment technique which utilizes lymphatic pathways to empty and decompress fluid filled areas, allowing the limb to return to normal or near-normal size.

The next step of the MLD treatment is bandaging. Multiple layers of low stretch bandages are applied to the limb, achieving a graded compression to prevent refilling of stagnant lymph and inhibit new lymph production. A trained therapist can do the bandaging and it should only be done by a trained professional.

Other Important Factors

Complete decongestive therapy also includes specific exercises prescribed to the patient by his or her therapist. While wearing the bandages, exercise activates muscles and joints which results in increased lymph flow and decreased swelling of the limb. It is very important that the patient follow his or her therapists instructions so as not to do any further harm or irritate the area more.

Finally, nail and skin care is very important in the treatment of lymphedema. Meticulous hygiene eliminates bacterial and fungal growth, thereby reducing the chances of infection. Skin and nail care are taught and practiced so as to improve treatment and decrease infection. All of these points make up a comprehensive lymphedema management treatment program.


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