Norton Healthcare Lymphedema

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What Is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the soft tissues, which can cause swelling of the arms, legs, breast, abdomen, neck or head. Primary lymphedema may be present at birth or develop in puberty or adulthood.

Lymphedema frequently is caused by various treatments for cancer, especially breast cancer, such as radiation or removal of lymph nodes and vessels.

Lymphedema is not a cancer, but because it is most commonly caused by cancer treatment, our certified lymphedema therapists work at the Norton Cancer Institute.

Causes of lymphedema unrelated to cancer treatment include infection or trauma to the lymphatic system.

If left untreated, lymphedema can cause

  • Dramatic swelling of affected extremities
  • Frequent infections
  • Skin changes
  • Discomfort
  • Loss of motor function and independence

Lymphedema Treatment

Lymphedema cannot be cured, but it can be controlled.

The best treatment is complete decongestive therapy, which involves:

  • Manual lymph drainage
  • Compression therapy
  • Skin care
  • Exercise

In addition to complete decongestive therapy, our therapists can address pain, tightness and decreased strength that may accompany the lymphedema.

Axillary Web Syndrome (cording)

Axillary web syndrome, or cording, is another condition that can emerge with lymphedema. With axillary web syndrome, you can feel and possibly see a ropelike web of tissue under the skin on the inside of your arm. Sometimes, you may just feel the pain and tightness of the cords.

Axillary web syndrome cords typically appear within weeks of having lymph nodes removed. The cords usually start in the underarm and can extend all the way to your hand. Our therapists will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan to release the tight cords.

Our therapists also measure for and fit compression garments. Treatment usually is covered by insurance plans with prior authorization and approval.

To learn more about lymphedema and treatment options, call or visit any of these locations:

To learn more about lymphedema and treatment options for patients who have cancer, call or visit any of these locations:

Norton Cancer Institute – Brownsboro
Norton Cancer Institute – St. Matthews
Norton Cancer Institute Women’s Cancer Center

To learn more about lymphedema and treatment options for patients without cancer, call Norton Specialty Rehabilitation Center –  St. Matthews at (502) 559-1860.

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