Lymphedema is the collection of fluid and causes swelling in the arms and legs. Normally your lymph nodes filter lymph fluid--- trapping bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances that are then destroyed by white blood cells called lymphocytes. When this does not happen, fluid builds up in the arms and/or legs causing lymphedema to develop.
St. Vincent's Riverside and Southside are two of only a few centers in North Florida offering certified therapy to treat lymphedema.
Our care is provided by licensed physical and occupational therapists that have completed at least 120 hours of specialized training and are certified in lymphedema therapy. Our therapists will perform an initial assessment and then put together a customized treatment plan based on your specific condition.
Types of Lymphedema
- Primary lymphedema is caused by the abnormal development of the lymph system. Symptoms may occur at birth or later in life.
- Secondary lymphedema is caused by damage to the lymph system. The lymph system may be damaged or blocked by infection, injury, cancer, removal of lymph nodes, radiation to the affected area or scar tissue from radiation therapy or surgery.
- Swelling of an arm or leg, may include fingers and toes
- A heavy feeling in an arm or leg
- A tightness or thickening in the skin
- Trouble moving a joint in the arm or leg
- Itching or burning of the legs or toes
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of hair
Cancer Lymphedema & Rehab Services
Cancer treatment may impact your physical abilities and lifestyle, interfering with the normal activities of daily living, work and/or leisure interests.
Lymphedema can occur after any cancer or treatment that affects the flow of lymph through the lymph nodes, such as removal of lymph nodes. It may develop within days or many years after treatment. Most lymphedema develops within three years of surgery.
Cancer rehabilitation can:
- Reduce arm/chest pain
- Improve shoulder range of motion and strength
- Build overall strength and endurance
- Improve functional independence
- Create a sense of physical and emotional well-being
- Manage swelling in the arms
Cancer rehabilitation at St. Vincent’s is designed in a way that you may begin treatment at any stage of your cancer treatment. An individualized treatment program may include any or all of the following:
- Pre-surgical assessment
- Post-operative assessment and treatment options
- Lymphedema evaluation/treatment/education
- Post-rehab wellness program
Our cancer rehabilitation service is staffed with caring and experienced physical and occupational therapists. We adopt an ‘In Action’ approach which enhances self-confidence, coping abilities and wellness. We are dedicated to support you before, during and/or after your cancer treatment.