Complex Decongestive Therapy

Individuals diagnosed with lymphedema are recommended for complex decongestive therapy (CDT) which is a combination of manual lymph drainage (MLD), remedial exercise, compression bandaging and garments, and therapeutic skin care. Lymphedema occurs when the body’s lymph vessels are unable to adequately drain lymph fluid and the tissue becomes congested with edema.

It can be either primary; meaning the client is genetically predisposed to the condition or secondary as a result of another disease or condition. Secondary lymphedema is most common, resulting from surgery, cancer treatments, obesity and/or body trauma. Common symptoms include asymmetrical swelling usually in the arms or legs,  pitting,  a feeling of heaviness in the limb, thickening of the skin in the later stages and a decrease in range of motion.

Clients recommended for CDT will follow a specific phased approach to treatment. In the intensive phase of treatment, the client will receive daily MLD treatment sessions for a two to three week period. MLD is a gentle form of massage where the therapist is trained in manual techniques which encourage lymph flow and drainage. After the massage treatment, the therapist will apply compression bandaging to maintain the reduction and to encourage further lymph drainage.

Once fluid reduction begins to stabilize, the client will start the maintenance phase. In this phase the therapist will recommend the client be fitted for compression garments. Clients are required to wear these garments daily during the waking hours in order to maintain the results. The therapist will collaborate with the client to develop a  maintenance  plan designed to maintain results.

The benefits of a compliant CDT plan include a reduction/prevention of edema, a decreased risk of fibrosis forming or hardening, reduced risk of infection in the limb, maintenance of range motion, better fitting clothing and an overall improved quality of life.

It is recommended that clients book 45-minute sessions to receive the most benefits from this treatment. To book a CDT treatment, call 613-635-7026.

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