Why are your arms, legs, abdomen, neck, or groin areas feel heavy? You started controlling your diet, exercising, seeing a nutritionist, and working on losing weight, but you still feel heavy, and your extremities and trunk are swollen. The heavyweight on your arms and legs or body parts has not changed. What could be causing this? Perhaps it's not your diet, lifestyle, exercise, or something else. Maybe it's lymphedema.
What is lymphedema? It is an abnormal accumulation of protein‐rich fluid in the interstitium which causes chronic inflammation, reactive fibrosis, and varying amounts of adipose tissue proliferation of the affected area. (Klose).
We all know about the cardiovascular systems that allow blood to circulate and transport nutrients to and from our cell bodies to maintain homeostasis. But, there is this system that is commonly misunderstood. We have a lymphatic system that helps collect and filter nutrients that seep out from the blood vessel or cells. Our lymphatics will transport this and return it to our venous system to be re-absorb by the heart and re-circulated. Problems occur when the lymphatic system is obstructed, nodes removed, or pre-collectors compromise. Just like diabetes, there is effective management for this kind of issue. For lymphedema, it is called CDT. Complete Decongestive Therapy. Lymphatic drainage alone and exercise alone are not exclusive to managing this condition. CDT is a comprehensive intervention for lymphedema conditions.
What comprises Complete Decongestive Therapy?
Manual lymphatic drainage
These, when performed, will help manage lymphedema. Also, all support is needed to promote good quality of life. You would need a consistent lymphedema physical therapist to be seen at least five times a week for two weeks. The therapy visits will reduce until the optimal level of function is attained. At the time of discharge, you will be independent to manage your lymphedema, you are capable to perform a home exercise program to self decongestive bandages and self lymphatic drainage.