This month we’re talking to patient Gene Metz, who came to us for help with a condition called lymphedema. We have a specialist on staff, Helen Gomez, PT, who is certified in lymphedema treatment techniques. Lymphedema is chronic swelling in the arms, legs, or trunk due to altered function of the lymphatic system. It can be caused by cancer, radiation, surgery, traumatic injury, infection, and/or removal of lymph nodes. Patients experience a heavy feeling in the affected body part as well as pain and loss of motion. This motion loss leads to decreased mobility.
HPT: Tell us about your condition. . .
Gene: My podiatrist and NP diagnosed me with lymphedema. My lymph nodes were overwhelmed and fluid filled up and expanded the spaces in my legs, causing edema (swelling), pain, and less ability to walk any distance.
HPT: How has PT affected your quality of life?
Gene: Helen taught me lymph node pumping and the treatment generally helps me to stay mobile in the community without pain in my legs or needing to use an assistive device. With the bandaging, lymph massage, and exercises it has reduced swelling and eventually I will have a machine to use at home to keep it low.
HPT: Please describe what a typical visit is like. . .
Gene: Helen cleans, conditions, and exfoliates the skin on my legs, then massages them and treats the skin. Then she bandages both legs. If there’s time I do exercises to move the fluid faster.
HPT: What would you want someone with your condition to know?
Gene: Don’t wait too long, so that you can’t walk.