SCCA’s physical therapists may recommend Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) to treat lymphedema. CDT is a non-invasive approach to treating lymphedema. CDT typically has two phases— the first phase happens at SCCA with our physical therapists who teach patients how to treat themselves. In the second phase, the patient themselves take the techniques they’ve learned to manage swelling on their own.
CDT includes compression, lymphatic massage, lymphatic exercises and skin care. Compression helps to decrease swelling and prevents it from getting worse. Lymphatic massage is a type of light self-massage that’s intended to get the lymphatic vessels to pump faster. Massage also helps to reroute the fluid to a lymphatic pathway that’s not blocked or damaged. In addition, patients are counselled on the importance of skin care and avoiding and managing situations that can cause swelling and overload the lymphatic system, for example, insect bites, cuts and burns in the arms and legs. Specific lymphatic exercises which cause the contraction of muscles can also help the movement of lymphatic fluid as well.