While there is no cure for Lymphedema, Lila Manzo can help improve the outcomes. The Director of Physical Therapy at Lawrence County Memorial Hospital, Manzo has been certified to treat the condition since 2011. She’s currently the only therapist in Lawrence County to have achieved the certification. “It’s a difficult certification to get,” said Manzo. “It’s a two-week course, with nine to 10 hours a day, and you have to do a lot of course work before that. I’m happy to have become certified.”
Lymphedema is swelling caused by the excess buildup of fluid under the skin, and is often caused when lymph nodes are removed or damaged. The lymph nodes act as a filter for waste, which is swept up and carried to the lymph nodes by the protein-rich lymphatic fluid. When the lymph nodes are damaged or blocked, the lymphatic fluid may accumulate beneath the skin and the lymph vessels and cause swelling.
A massage is a part of the treatment, according to Manzo. Good skin care, bandaging and compression wraps are a long-term approach. “The compression wraps are probably the most important piece,” Manzo said. “People also like a compression pump, which they can rent or purchase and use at home.”
The bandaging, or wrapping, is the application of layers of padding and short-stretch bandages to involved areas. The short-stretch bandages enhance the pumping action of the lymph vessels by providing increased resistance. This encourages lymphatic flow and helps to soften fluid-swollen areas.
Compression becomes imperative in the management of the condition, and garments are often intended to be worn all day, but may be taken off for sleeping unless otherwise prescribed. Elastic compression garments are worn on the affected limb following complete decongestive therapy. Styles, options and prices of the garments vary widely. A professional garment fitter, or a certified therapist such as Manzo can help determine the best option.