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World Lymphedema Day is March 6: What to Know About This Condition

March 01, 2022

On March 6, the Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network (HHCRN) acknowledges World Lymphedema Day, an annual advocate-driven celebration established in 2016 by the U.S. Senate in response to a bill written by the Lymphatic Education & Research Network (LE&RN). HHCRN currently offers treatment for the management of Lymphedema at 20 ocations throughout the state. The program has been recognized as an International Center of Excellence in Lymphatic Disease Care by LE&RN. This recognition is only awarded to institutions that meet rigorous standards to ensure the highest quality of care for lymphatic disease. HHCRN’s program is one of only a few in the world awarded this distinction.

Understanding Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a chronic swelling that progresses in severity without proper treatment. The lymphatic system drains fluid from tissue but when it is not working properly, that fluid builds up, causing feelings of heaviness, stiffness or aching. Lymphedema is a protein-rich swelling that can occur in any part of the body. [embed]https://youtu.be/E2qC2zoeSDc[/embed]

Common Signs and Symptoms of Lymphedema

  • Swelling of part or all of your arm or leg, including fingers or toes.
  • A feeling of heaviness or tightness.
  • Restricted range of motion.
  • Aching or discomfort.
  • Recurring infections.
  • Hardening and thickening of the skin (fibrosis).
  • The swelling caused by lymphedema ranges from mild, hardly noticeable changes in the size of your arm or leg to extreme changes that make the limb hard to use. Lymphedema caused by cancer treatment may not occur until months or years after treatment.
Although lymphedema is commonly associated with cancer diagnoses and interventions, such as removal of lymph nodes during treatment, it's also caused by various non-cancer conditions. [caption id="attachment_39193" align="aligncenter" width="1190"]Linda Hodgkins Linda Hodgkins, Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network’s Lymphedema Clinical Program Manager, with a patient.[/caption] Despite no known cure, lymphedema can be managed with conservative therapy. Therapy might include manual lymph drainage massage, multi-layer bandaging, consistent use of compression garments, exercise and meticulous skin care, as well as regular follow-up visits with a CLT. “World Lymphedema Day gives our team and our patients the opportunity to spotlight this difficult, chronic, under recognized disease,” said Linda Hodgkins, Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network’s Lymphedema Clinical Program Manager. “As lymphedema therapists, it brings validation to our work and for our patients it brings support for their struggle. "Our team is grateful for the opportunity World Lymphedema Day provides to spotlight the importance of identifying and treating chronic swelling in all of our patients. We want to collaborate with every discipline throughout Hartford HealthCare to treat and reduce chronic swelling and improve patient outcomes, comfort, and experience.” For more information about Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network’s Lymphedema program, click here.

Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute