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Lymphedema

The Siskin Hospital Lymphedema Program offers Outpatient treatment options.

The intensive program is one of the nation's most comprehensive and well established Lymphedema treatment programs.


What is Lymphedema?


The lymphatic system normally transports waste and protein-rich fluids away from the skin to the lymph nodes, where the fluid is filtered, returned to the bloodstream, and excreted. 

Lymphedema is a condition that occurs when the lymphatic tissues or lymph nodes are damaged, destroyed, or removed.

The flow of lymph fluid is then significantly slowed or halted. As a result, fluid accumulates in the skin causing swelling in the arms and/or legs making them feel heavy and tight.

Your doctor can make a diagnosis based on your medical history and your description of symptoms. Several health conditions can increase the risk for developing lymphedema, such as cancer with node removal or radiation, poor veins, genetics and even trauma.

Typical Signs and Symptoms of Lymphedema: 

  • Increased size of limb or body part
  • Uneven fitting of clothing or jewelry
  • Feeling of fullness, heaviness, or tightness in the affected area
  • Decreased sensations in the affected area
  • Recurrent infections of the skin or the affected limb
  • Discoloration of the skin, especially in the legs
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Hardening of a limb
  • Leakage of lymph fluid
  • Massive swelling

Outpatient Lymphedema Treatment

Components of Care
 

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)
The primary component of Lymphedema care is manual lymphatic drainage. A specially-trained therapist uses a gentle massage technique to stimulate the direction of lymph flow to move the fluid out of the swollen extremity. MLD also helps the body carry the proteins out of the tissue which can otherwise cause the swelling to get firm and difficult to move.

Compression
Specialized bandages and compression garments are worn to promote lymphatic flow and prevent fluid from accumulating again following MLD.  Therapy begins with the use of specialty bandages to promote reduction in the swollen extremity. This continues until the extremity reaches its best size, usually from a few days to a few weeks depending on the swelling. After bandaging, compression garments are worn daily to maintain results and discretely hold the extremity's size.

Exercise
Exercise maximizes the effect of compression (whether it is bandages or garments). Because the lymphatic system does not contain a ‘pump' like the circulatory system, it is important to move the muscles and joints to stimulate the lymphatic system to help move the fluid out of the body. Each person is given a customized home program to maintain the results of therapy.

Skin Care
Because the skin sometimes is stretched beyond normal, lymphedema increases the risk of skin breakdown. Any break in the skin, however small, may be an entry for infection. You will be taught how to take care of your skin and prevent these problems.

Treatment Team 
Siskin Hospital has the facilities and staff to treat patients beyond the four standards of care for lymphedema treatment. Our specialists can manage from the mildest of swelling to significant swellings that can not be managed elsewhere. Additional specialized skills may assist the patient in their well being, such as: scar management, myofacial treatment and fitness programs. 

Siskin Hospital's expert team consists of six certified Lymphedema therapists, as well as three additional therapists who are clinically trained in Lymphedema treatment.
Learn more about the Lymphedema treatment team.

Goals
The goals of the program are specific to each patient, but overall they are aimed at restoring, enhancing, and supporting the patient's maximum level of independence. Through Outpatient, Inpatient, SubAcute, and Vocational Rehabilitation programs, Siskin Hospital offers comprehensive rehabilitation at every level of treatment, from initial therapy to returning the patient to the community, school, or work.

Outpatient Admission
A physician's referral and prescription for Lymphedema Therapy are required before therapy can begin. After receiving the referral, a team member will contact the patient to schedule an evaluation. Referrals may be faxed to 423.634.4578.


Contact Information

Siskin Hospital Lymphedema Clinic
One Siskin Plaza
Chattanooga, TN 37403


You may also call 423.634.1246 or by email lymphedema@siskinrehab.org.


Resources
 

Donations
 

To alleviate the cost burden of treatment and compression garments, Siskin Hospital accepts donations specifically for Lymphedema patients.

Learn more about how you can make a difference in the lives of our patients.