MyMichigan’s Unique Lymphedema Program

Lymphedema is swelling of the body that occurs when the normal functioning of the lymphatic system is compromised. It can occur as a result of a birth defects, surgical trauma, injury, infection or radiation therapy. Left untreated, lymphedema can result in progressive pain, loss of function, skin breakdown, and increased risk of infection.

MyMichigan provides a unique and specialized lymphedema rehabilitation therapy, available both as an outpatient service and through home care. Our specially trained therapists can evaluate your problem and design an individualized program for self-management and control of this chronic condition.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Swelling in the chest, back, arm, legs, hands and fingers
  • Feelings of tightness, heaviness or fullness
  • Stiffness or tenderness of involved joints
  • Discomfort or pain in involved areas
  • Recurrent skin breakdown and persistent wounds

What Can be Done?

Specially trained therapists will design a program based on your individual needs which may include:

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage - a gentle rhythmic massage technique that stimulates lymph flow to help reduce swelling
  • Compression - often begins with compression bandaging to reduce swelling and later progresses to compression garments for ongoing management.
  • Exercises - done wearing compression bandages or garments to further increase lymph flow. Posture, mobility and strength exercises are also added as needed.
  • Wound care - may include debridement, dressings and stimulation techniques to speed healing
  • Kinesio Taping - using elastic tape to decrease congestion and swollen tissue, through increased lymphatic flow. It can also act to stimulate more balanced muscle activity.
  • Myofascial Release – a soft tissue massage technique to release tight connective tissue, increase lymph flow, decrease pain, and improve function and mobility
  • Patient/Family Education - includes skin care, diet instructions, daily living precautions, self-massage and self-bandaging education, proper use of compression garments, and developing on-going at-home management.

Treatment results can be dramatic. Successful management is the goal.

Treatment frequency depends on individual needs and may range from a few visits to four to eight weeks.

Costs, Insurance and Referrals

This service may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid or commercial insurance when ordered by a physician. If you have questions about coverage, your insurance carrier or your employer's benefits department is the best source of information.

If you are experiencing abnormal swelling, it is important to see your doctor to properly identify the root cause. If lymphedema is the cause of your swelling, ask your doctor about a referral to MyMichigan's lymphedema rehabilitation services program.

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