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Lymphedema Rehabilitation


Lymphedema is a chronic condition that can be controlled with treatment, so you can lead a normal life.

Your Ballad Health team can help ease your discomfort and provide immediate relief.

What is lymphedema?

As part of your circulatory system, the lymphatic system carries blood and fluids to the lymph nodes to be cleansed and returned for recirculation.

When there’s a blockage in the lymphatic system, fluid will build up in surrounding tissue and cause lymphedema.

Primary vs. secondary lymphedema

There are two types of lymphedema – primary and secondary.

Primary lymphedema is an inherited condition that can be present at birth or develop later in life, during puberty or pregnancy for example.

Secondary lymphedema occurs after damage to your lymphatic system, such as a traumatic injury, surgery or infection. Most cases are cancer-related and caused by radiation therapy during cancer treatment.

Factors that may increase your risk of developing lymphedema are:

  • Older age
  • Excess weight or obesity
  • Rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis

Symptoms of lymphedema

We will work with you to treat:

  • Aching or discomfort in the affected area
  • Feeling of fullness, tightness or heaviness in the affected area
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Recurring infections
  • Swelling that doesn’t seem to go away
  • Tenderness
  • Thickening or redness of the skin
  • Tingling or burning pains
  • Warmth or tenderness of the skin

What can happen if I don’t get treated?

Lymphedema is a chronic and progressive disease. It will continue to worsen over time when not treated.

Though it can’t be completely prevented, lymphedema can be controlled and managed when symptoms are found and treated early.

Ignoring lymphedema can lead to serious complications, such as:

  • Bacterial infections of the skin (cellulitis)
  • Infection of the lymph vessels (lymphangitis)
  • Soft tissue cancer (lymphangiosarcoma)

Lymphedema services and treatments

After a thorough evaluation, your therapist might recommend:

  • Compression bandaging and garments – to encourage the flow of lymph fluid
  • Non-invasive (manual) lymphatic drainage – a massage technique that stimulates lymphatic fluid
  • Therapeutic exercises, including flexibility, strengthening and aerobic activity – to stimulate circulation
  • Wearing a pneumatic compression pump – an inflatable sleeve connected to a pump that periodically inflates with air and causes pressure to reduce swelling

The goal of lymphedema rehabilitation is to prevent or reduce and stabilize symptoms.

How do you get started with treatment?

Team up with our therapists at a location near you (listed below) throughout Northeast Tennessee or Southwest Virginia.

You’ll get the care you need to reach your potential.