Medical Monday : Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a condition that can affect patients at any age
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 8:23 AM EDT
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Lymphedema is a condition that can affect patients at any age. It’s the focus of this week’s medical Monday with Vanessa Symonick.

Candace Donovan: “The lymphatic system is all over the entire body. A lot of people think it’s just lymph nodes, but it’s really not. It’s lymph collectors with lymph nodes.”

Candace Donovan is an occupational therapist and a certified lymphedema therapist at AR Gould and talks about lymphedema and the impacts it can have on the body. Lymphedema happens when there is an impairment in the lymphatic system and can occur in all parts of the body including the legs, armpits, gut, and neck. There are four different stages of lymphedema and it can happen to anyone from kids to seniors.

Donovan: “When the lymphatic system fails, then it’s leaving protein cells and all the large particles it’s supposed to be picking up. It’s leaving those behind almost like residue in the skin and when you touch it, it leaves a dent. That’s called pitting edema. And that’s what it’s caused from”.

She says while this condition can occur all over the body there is a common area where she sees this condition typically develop.

Donovan: “Probably ninety percent of my case load is legs. Venus insufficiency is a big one that puts stress on the lymphatic system in addition to all the additional injuries that can happen”.

One treatment for the condition can be compression garments, but treatments are individualized based on the patient. Ryan Dicker is a patient of Donovan’s who was in an automobile accident back in April of 20-21 and was told by one doctor he may have to have his foot amputated. He says visiting the clinic has changed his life.

Ryan Dicker: “When I first started coming here, the pain was off the charts. I mean I literally was doing nothing. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t function properly. She basically manipulates the lymphedema out of my feet and my legs and with compression socks and her dedication I like to say, she has pretty much changed my life.”

And he wants to send this message to anyone who thinks they may have lymphedema.

Ryan Dicker: “You definitely need to talk to your PCP or whoever and get an appointment to get in here to see them because it’s a game changer, life changing.”

If you think you may have lymphedema you should check with your primary care provider to be referred to the clinic. Vanessa Symonick Newssource 8.