More than 10 million Americans suffer from lymphedema, yet most of us know very little about this chronic and progressive condition.\nWhat Is Lymphedema?\nLymphedema is swelling that generally occurs in the arms and legs when the lymph system is damaged. It can be hereditary, and in the United States, lymphedema is most often linked to cancer surgery and radiation treatments. Symptoms include heaviness, achiness, tightness, and reduced range of motion in an arm or leg.\nEarly diagnosis and treatment has shown to improve your chances of successfully managing lymphedema.\n\u201cAt UPMC Centers for Rehab Services, our certified lymphedema therapists are specially trained in treating the condition,\u201d said Lisa Mager, MPT, CLT-LANA, WCS, physical therapist at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services\u2019 Cranberry location. \u201cThey will work with you and your doctor to create a personalized care plan.\u201d\nThe primary goal of treatment is to control swelling and improve movement in the affected limb. While there are several methods for managing lymphedema, UPMC uses the gold standard treatment \u2014 complete decongestive therapy (CDT) \u2014 to gently move excess fluid out of the swollen area so that it can drain into the body.\nRELATED:\u00a0Managing Lymphedema During and After Breast Cancer Treatment\nComplete decongestive (CDT) therapy includes:\n\nCompression bandaging and compression garments to encourage fluids to flow out of the affected area and to help prevent them from returning.\nMassage, using a light-touch technique known as manual lymph drainage.\nDevelopment of a personal exercise plan to encourage fluid drainage and build your strength for everyday tasks.\nSkin care and hygiene tips to avoid injury and infection, and to keep skin from getting dry and cracked.\nEducation about the importance of long-term management and at-home care.\n\n\u201cIn order to maintain results, it\u2019s extremely important for patients to follow the treatment plan they\u2019ve developed with their therapist,\u201d Mager said.\nIf you have symptoms of lymphedema \u2014 especially if you are a cancer survivor \u2014 talk to your doctor immediately.\u00a0Learn more about lymphedema management and treatment at UPMC Centers for Rehab Services, or call 1-888-723-4CRS (4277) for more information or to schedule an appointment.\nWant more from UPMC Centers for Rehab Services?\nSubscribe to our quarterly e-newsletter to hear from our therapists and patients regarding physical, occupational, and speech therapy.