Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is for the management of patients with lymphedema. One may be at risk for developing lymphedema if you have had a mastectomy, lumpectomy, radiation treatment, lymph node removal, surgeries, infections, or trauma to the limbs. Injuries to the veins can also impact your risk to get lymphedema including blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis (DVTs) to your calf and legs, chronic venous insufficiency, and varicose veins. CDT consists of manual lymphatic drainage, compression with short-stretch bandaging, decongestive exercises, skin care, and patient instruction. Physician orders are needed. The evaluation and treatments are given by a licensed physical therapist certified in CDT. To find out more about the program or to schedule an appointment for an evaluation, please contact 785-623-5691.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is an abnormal buildup of fluid that results in swelling, usually in the arms or legs,
but can also occur in the head, neck and trunk.
• The condition develops when lymph vessels or lymph nodes are missing, impaired, damaged, or
removed. It affects both women and men and can occur at any age.
• Lymphedema cannot be cured but with the right care and treatment, the affected
limb can be restored to a more normal size and shape.
• Lymphedema also can be treated and controlled so that it does not progress further
• Left untreated, lymphedema can lead to increased swelling and hardening of the tissue,
resulting in decreased function and mobility in the limb. It can also lead to chronic infection
and other illnesses.
We first provide hands-on therapy to reduce the size of the affected limb and then teach each person to successfully manage their specific conditions. Our therapist is Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) certified. CDT is a painless, noninvasive treatment using techniques that consist of:
• Proper skin and nail care to reduce risk of infections
• Manual lymph drainage (MLD) – a gentle manual technique that routes lymph fluid away from the
area toward adjacent functioning lymph nodes.
• Specialized compression bandaging
• Remedial exercises or exercises that address related orthopedic dysfunctionsand lymphatic flow
• Instructions in self-care techniques including self-MLD and self-bandaging
• Compression garment fitting
The length of treatment depends upon which limb is involved and the severity of the swelling. Success depends on the patient’s willingness to follow the prescribed treatments and their commitment to long-term self-management.
Getting a Referral
Most insurance companies will cover the initial evaluation and treatment for the complete decongestive therapy; they do not cover the cost of supplies for the compression wraps and may or may not cover the cost of the compression garments. A referral to the Lymphedema Program can be obtained by acquiring a prescription from your physician.
If you have any questions or are interested in the Lymphedema Program in Outpatient Rehabilitation Services located at the Center for Health Improvement please call 785.623.5691