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Lymphedema physical therapy - Upstate

Lymphedema is swelling that occurs when the lymphatic system has been disrupted due to surgery, radiation, infection, disease or trauma. This disruption may result in an inability for the lymphatic system to move its fluid and proteins well. The Prisma Health Cancer Institute Lymphedema Management Program helps patients reduce their risk and control lymphedema that is related to cancer. Treatment depends on the severity and extent of the condition.

Physician referral is required for evaluation by our specialty trained and certified physical therapists. 

Free presurgery screening for lymphedema  
A free presurgical appointment is recommended for breast cancer patients to measure arm size prior to surgery. These measurements can be used to accurately monitor arm dimensions after surgery to detect early lymphedema. This is a free visit.

Signs of lymphedema

If you have had cancer treatment and have any of the symptoms below, ask your doctor if an  evaluation is right for you.

  • A full or heavy sensation in an arm or leg.
  • An increase in size in an arm of a leg.
  • Skin feels tight. 
  • Clothes of jewelry do not fit well on one side. 
  • Hardness or firmness in an arm or leg.
  • Weeping from the skin.

Complete decongestive lymphedema therapy  
If lymphedema does develop, patients can be seen by a physical therapist who will use some of the following methods: 

  • Manual lymphatic drainage to decrease swelling in an affected area. 
  • Use of short stretch bandaging to decrease limb size, pitting and fibrosis. 
  • Education on appropriate skin care.
  • Self-manual lymphatic drainage.
  • Appropriate exercises to promote lymphatic drainage. 
  • Recommendations for compression garments.

Lymphedema education classes 
Education classes are available for patients and caregivers. Cancer survivors are encouraged to attend these classes before, during and after treatment to learn more about lymphedema management. For more information on upcoming classes please call us at 864-455-3459.

Physician referral is required for evaluation and treatment by a specialty trained and certified physical therapist. These services can be billed to your insurance provider as a physical therapy benefit.

Contact Us

For more information, call:

Upstate: 864-455-3459
Midlands: 803-434-7750 (Lymphedema Management Program)