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Lymphedema Program

Good News! Lymphedema is Manageable!

The Onslow Memorial Rehab Center is proud to offer a comprehensive Lymphedema management program to the Jacksonville community. This program is lead by Certified Lymphedema Specialist, Sharon Brown, OTR/L, CLT, and uses a noninvasive treatment called Complete Decongestive Therapy—a simple six-step program that allows patients to successfully manage the swelling and pain associated with Lymphedema.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is swelling of the arm, leg, breast, trunk, face, or neck due to an accumulation of lymph fluid in the skin tissues.

What causes Lymphedema?

The Lymphatic System is a network of vessels, like veins, that rid your body of excess fluid.  When the amount of fluid is too great or when your lymphatic system is damaged, you get lymphedema.

Signs and Symptoms of Lymphedema:

  • Swelling
  • Feeling of heaviness
  • Hardness under your skin
  • Skin feeling tight
  • Frequent infections
  • Difficulty fitting into clothing, jewelry, or shoes

Risk factors that increase the possibility of developing lymphedema:

  • Surgery involving the lymphatic system including the lymph nodes
  • Radiation therapy
  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • A congenital defect of the lymph system

Six simple steps to successful management:

After careful assessment, you begin a series of treatment sessions that include:

  • Manual Lymph Drainage - a gentle manual technique to influence the proper flow of lymph fluid
  • Compression Therapy - special bandages are applied to increase tissue pressure and prevent re-accumulation of lymph fluid
  • Lymphatic Exercises - performed while wearing compression to aid in further reduction of the swollen extremity
  • Skin Care - proper skin care is taught to prevent infection
  • Compression Garments - custom fit compression garments are used on a daily basis for independent management of swelling
  • Patient Education - long-term education on the management of lymphedema

Benefits of treatment:

  • Decrease limb girth, soften tissue and improve skin quality
  • Prevent open wounds, and decrease risk of infection and hospitalization
  • Improve range of motion, exercise capacity, and appearance
  • Improve quality of life, reduce risk of immobility and social isolation
  • Enable independence of daily living activities and long-term self-management

Guidelines for extremity care to prevent edema formation:

  • Do not allow blood pressure or injections in the arm that is on the same side as surgery.
  • Do not wear jewelry or clothing that is tight on the involved limb.
  • Use insect repellent (low DEET) to prevent insect bites.
  • Avoid heavy lifting or placing sudden strain on the involved limb.
  • Use oven mitts when cooking to avoid burns.
  • Use protective gloves when performing yard work.
  • Acquire a compression garment for your involved limb if you will travel by plane.


Contact us

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the Onslow Memorial Rehab Center at (910) 577-2372.

Click here for Center hours and directions.