Lymphedema Treatment

We use non-invasive therapies to restore lymphatic and venous flow to ultimately reduce swelling and improve quality of life.

LYMPHATOUCHLymphedema is a potentially debilitating condition that affects more than 140 million people worldwide. Literally meaning “lymph swelling,” lymphedema is caused by the inhibition of lymph—fluid containing debris, microbes, proteins, etc.—to be transported efficiently through the lymphatic system. Whether inherited or brought on by physical damage or infection to the lymph node(s) of the body, this accumulation of lymph fluid gathers in the layer beneath the skin and results in the painful deformation of surrounding collagen bundles, fat, and connective tissue (7,8). Although currently incurable, lymphedema may be treated with a number of therapies to alleviate its symptoms.

At Pacific Coast Sports Medicine, we offer evidence-based treatments in conjunction with top-of-the-line technology to achieve optimal clinical outcomes.

For those diagnosed with lymphedema, our practitioners use the non-invasive therapies Pressodermie® and Vacuodermie® to restore lymphatic and venous flow in order to ultimately reduce swelling.

Developed by EURODUC, a medical company specializing in lymphatic drainage treatment since 1977, the Pressodermie® and Vacuodermie® therapies utilize the forces of compression and decompression to promote the natural movement of lymph fluid throughout the body in patients with lymphedema (5).

Why does swelling occur and how do we treat it?

Swelling caused by restricted flow in the lymphatic system, does not only result in discomfort, pain, loss of function, and visible deformity, it also increases risk of infection and other complications concerning the immune system. Normally, lymph fluid travels via the lymphatic vessels throughout the body towards the heart, where it eventually is filtered at the lymph nodes out into the venous blood stream. When this circulatory filtration process is inhibited, even the smallest cut or injury can lead to infection (4).

The Pressodermie® technique applies “intermittent pneumatic compression” to the swollen limb and “takes over the permanently missing function of the obliterated lymphatics by squeezing edema tissue fluid to the regions with normal lymphatic drainage” (9). In other words, our clinicians are able to restore the flow of the lymphatic system and in turn decrease swelling.

Teenage girl exercising on balance beam.Vacuodermie®—the use of vacuum or decompression—is used to increase lymph movement by our health professionals at Pacific Coast Sports Medicine as well. Also known as “cupping,” this technique’s principle has been used by cultures of the Ancient East for thousands of years. Swelling is decreased by applying negative pressure (i.e. decompression) to the affected limb, thereby expanding capillary expansion and allowing lymph to flow more freely through the lymph vessels (6).

Both therapies have been demonstrated as safe and effective in the research literature regarding treatment of lymphedema (2,3,6).

  • In one clinical study looking at the effects of intermittent pneumatic compression on the limbs of those with lymphedema, over 80% experience beneficial effects and improved transport of lymph (1)
  • After 3 years of compressive treatment, researchers reported decreases in limb circumference (swelling) and increased elasticity in tissues as well as no complications as a result of treatment (9)
  • Vacuum therapy visibly decreased swelling in the hand after two weeks of treatment (6)

More recently, athletes have discovered the benefits of these lymphedema treatments. Athletes have found that these modalities can help them recover more quickly from their workouts by clearing the extremities of the byproducts of their training. In doing so they are able to recuperate quicker from a workout before they proceed with another intense training session. This accelerates their training and improves their athletic performance.

Symptoms of lymphedema can place an intolerable burden on those who experience the condition. With the novel equipment and experienced staff at Pacific Coast Sports Medicine, patients can receive treatment of the highest echelon and have increased chances in being able to carry out activities of daily living without the discomfort that comes with edema. Athletes are also using this modality to recover from intense workouts and increase their athletic performance. Feel free to schedule a consultation with our clinicians to see if you could benefit from this advanced modality.

References:

  1. Baulieu F, Baulieu JL, Vaillant L, Secchi V, Barsotti J. Factorial analysis in radionuclide lymphography: assessment of the effects of sequential pneumatic compression. Lymphology. 1989;22(4):178-85.
  2. Cavezzi A, Paccasassi S, Elio C. Lymphedema treatment by means of an electro-medical device based on bioresonance and vacuum technology: clinical and lymphoscintigraphic assessment. Int Angiol. 2013;32(4):417-23.
  3. Chang CJ, Cormier JN. Lymphedema interventions: exercise, surgery, and compression devices. Semin Oncol Nurs. 2013;29(1):28-40.
  4. Mayo Clinic Web site. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lymphedema/basics/complications/con-20025603. Accessed March 30, 2015.
  5. Euroduc Web site. http://www.eureduc.eu/english/index.php. Accessed March 19, 2015.
  6. Kim Y-S, Lee H-M. Effects of moving cupping on the edematous hands of three patients with flaccid hemiplegia. Korean Journal of Oriental Medicine. 2002;3(1):1-6.
  7. Wikipedia Web site. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lymphedema. Accessed March 30, 2015. Modified March 29, 2015.
  8. Zaleska et al. Pressures and timing of intermittent pneumatic compression devices for efficient tissue fluid and lymph flow in limbs with lymphedema. Lymphat Res Biol. 2013;11(4):227-32.
  9. Zaleska M, Olszewski WL, Durlik M. The effectiveness of intermittent pneumatic compression in long-term therapy of lymphedema of lower limbs. Lymphat Res Biol. 2014;12(2):103-9.

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