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Lymphedema Therapy

Lymphedema involves the swelling of a body part, most often the arms, but it can also affect the extremities, face, neck, abdomen, and/or genitals. Breast cancer is the leading cause of lymphedema due to axillary node surgery.

Characteristics of Lymphedema

You may have a feeling of heaviness in part of your body, such as your arm, hand, or foot. Swelling throughout the area of your body may be visible, and you may feel discomfort, but not necessarily pain. Some people experience cellulitis or irritation to the skin which causes it to be red.

How to Receive Lymphedema Treatment

Your Doctor must give you a prescription for Lymphedema/Physical Therapy. You may call PM&R (Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) to schedule an appointment for Lymphedema treatment at (432) 640-1230.

What to Expect from Treatment

Your Initial visit with a physical therapist will include an evaluation, plan of care, and goals for treatment.

Treatments to follow are usually daily unless specified by your physical therapist and will include:

  • Lymphatic drainage massage to the abdomen, neck, underarm, and groin (depending on the limb receiving treatment)-where the major lymph nodes are located.
  • Lymphatic drainage massage to the involved limb, front & back
  • Wrapping of the involved limb-from fingers or toes up towards the body
  • The wrapping will be worn all day and night until your next visit
  • Upon being discharged you will be measured for a compression garment, which you will wear during the day and self-wrap at night

Your physical therapist will determine how long you will need lymphedema treatment, which could last from two weeks to two months. You can participate in physical and or occupational therapy along with lymphedema treatment and we encourage increased activity.

For information about the Lymphedema Therapy division at MCH Health System, contact the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department at (432) 640-1230.

Lymphedema Therapist

Katherine Ovalle, LPTA, is a certified lymphedema therapist (CLT) at Medical Center Health System. She graduated from the Odessa College Physical Therapy Assistant Program in 2012 and she has been employed at MCHS since July 2012. She is a native Odessan and graduated from Odessa High School. She worked as a physical therapy technician in high school and knew that Physical Therapy was the career she wanted to pursue.

There are only eight therapists in our area (West of Dallas and East of New Mexico) who are certified through the Norton School of Lymphatic Therapy, and Katherine is one of them. She enjoys helping patients regain as much function as possible after stroke, cancer treatment, and other debilitating circumstances.