What is Lymphedema?

lympodema1Lymphedema is the swelling of a body part, due to abnormal accumulation of protein rich lymph fluid. This is a condition that occurs from deficient or damaged lymphatic system, which alters the transport of the lymph fluid. Lymphedema usually affects the arms or legs, but it can also affect the head and neck, genital and trunk regions.

Our goal at Rapid Rehab is to educate and teach each patient the skills to manage their lymphedema condition and to improve their quality of life.

Some people develop lymphedema without an obvious cause, which is diagnosed as Primary Lymphedema. Primary Lymphedema can be categorized into three types:

  • Congenital Lymphedema – present at birth or develops within the first year of life.
  • Lymphedema Praecox – develops before the age of 35.
  • Lymphedema Tarda – develops after the age of 35.

The most common cause of lymphedema in the United States is cancer treatment. This is diagnosed as Secondary Lymphedema and it occurs when the lymph nodes or any part of the lymphatic system has been altered from surgeries, radiation, chronic infection or trauma. Surgical removal and/or radiation of the lymph nodes is commonly used to treat cancers, such as: breast, uterine, ovarian, bladder, prostate, testicular, malignant melanomas and lymphomas.

Complete Decongestive Therapy is a combination of Manual Lymph Drainage, compression bandaging, patient education and skin care, exercise and a garment.

Consultation: The Rapid Rehab staff is available for patient and physician consultation and to answer any questions. Please call 540-665-2750 (Winchester) or 540-636-3500 (Front Royal) if you have any questions or wish to schedule an appointment.

Insurance: Most insurance companies cover physical therapy. However, each patient will need to check with his or her own insurance company to determine coverage for treatment.  The cost of bandages and garments are typically not covered by insurance.

Sherisue Barber, DPT, CLT, ASTYM

Sherisue received her Doctoral Degree in Physical Therapy from Shenandoah University. She is certified by the Norton School of Lymphatic Therapy and is a certified garment fitter for Juzo and Jobst Elvarex.

“In 2009 I was diagnosed with lymphedema of the lower extremities and for the next three years I endured painful treatments and spent thousands of dollars on various procedures to treat the pain and discomfort I was feeling, but to no avail. I had even been told there was “no solution” for me. Finally, in late 2012 a doctor’s patient coordinator told me about lymphedema treatment offered at Rapid Rehab. Initially I had doubts given my previous experiences. I began to feel relieved and hopeful beginning with my very first appointment at Rapid Rehab. The treatment I received from the doctors and staff was truly incredible and it was amazing to see the swelling decrease in my legs from one day to the next. After dealing with lymphedema pain and swelling for 3 years, I no longer suffer from itching and breakouts and the size of my legs decreased so much that I am finally able to wear a pair of blue jeans. My wife and I will always by indebted to this group of truly caring people.”