Lymphedema Treatment Specialists – Indianapolis, IN
Indy Lymphedema was born in May 2011, as a part of the Miller Care Group services. Dr. Michael MIller recognized the need for aggressive lymphedema diagnostics and treatment which were extremely limited in the area. Using only health care providers and therapists who have completed the rigorous Klose 145 hour lymphedema training program, and are certified lymphedema therapists and members of the lymphedema Association of North America. The program has achieved an unequaled reputation as the “go-to” provider of services not just for lymphedema, but for other causes of lower extremity swelling as well. Our team offers the full spectrum of services, including not just expert diagnostics, but the entire continuum of care, incorporating the definitive treatment and obtaining garments, pneumatic pumps, and other specialized adjunctive therapies, to ensure that your outcome is the best it can be.
Indy Lymphedema – In Home Therapy
The Indy Lymphedema program is primarily home-based recognizing that those afflicted with this disease have the greatest difficulty getting out of their homes to seek needed treatments. The Miller Care Group are experts in the diagnosis and evaluation of this debilitating disease, as well as many of its variants. Through our home health care agency partners, the services of trained lymphedema specialists are available to provide the highest quality lymphedema therapy in Indianapolis and surrounding areas.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a build-up of lymph fluid in the fatty tissues just under your skin. This build-up causes swelling (or edema), most often in the arms or legs. Lymphedema can also affect the face, neck, abdomen, and genitals, depending on the part of the body that was treated. There are two phases of Lymphedema: Primary and Secondary.
Primary Lymphedema occurs within the genes. This lymphedema is caused by lymph nodes or vessels that are missing or not working the way they should. This type of lymphedema is rare.
Secondary Lymphedema can be a result of cancer, cancer treatments, tumors, diseases, or anything that changes or damages the normal, healthy lymph system.
What is Lymphatic Fluid?
The fluid called lymph is part of the lymphatic system, together with lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, the thymus, and the spleen. This system is a crucial support to the immune system, and also supplements the cardiovascular system by helping to remove toxins from the body. The lymphatic system works in the following ways:
- The lymphatic system collects excess fluids and plasma proteins from surrounding tissues and returns them to the blood circulation. Within lymphatic vessels, this collected material forms a usually colorless fluid called lymph, which is transported to the neck where it empties into the circulatory system
- The lymphatic system absorbs lipids and fat-soluble materials from the digestive tract.
- The lymphatic system filters the lymph by destroying pathogens, inactivating toxins, and removing particulate matter. Lymph nodes, (small bodies interspersed along lymphatic vessels), act as cleaning filters and as immune response centers that defend against infection.
The movement of lymph through lymphatic vessels is slow (3 liters per day) compared to blood flow (about 5 liters per minute). Lymph does not circulate like blood, but moves in one direction from its collection in tissues to its return in the blood. There are no lymphatic pumps; instead, lymph, much like blood in veins, is propelled forward by action of the nearby skeletal muscles, the expansion and contraction of the lungs, and the contraction of the smooth muscle fibers in the walls of the lymphatic vessels. Valves in the lymphatic vessels prevent the backward movement of lymph.
How is Lymphedema Diagnosed?
A thorough medical history and physical examination are performed to rule out other causes of limb swelling, such as edema due to congestive heart failure, kidney failure, blood clots, or other conditions. Often, the medical history of surgery or other conditions involving the lymph nodes will point to the cause and establish the diagnosis of lymphedema.
If the cause of swelling is not clear, other tests may be carried out to help determine the cause of limb swelling.
- CT or MRI scans may be useful to help define lymph node architecture or to identify tumors or other abnormalities.
- Lymphoscintigraphy is a test that involves injecting a tracer dye into lymph vessels and then observing the flow of fluid using imaging technologies. It can illustrate blockages in lymph flow.
Doppler ultrasound scans are sound wave tests used to evaluate blood flow, and can help identify blood clot in the veins (deep venous thrombosis) that may be a cause of limb swelling.
What are the treatments for Lymphedema?
Lymphedema cannot be cured, although treatments are available to help manage the condition and lessen the severity of symptoms. Because the immune system is weakened in areas affected by lymphedema, bacterial infections often develop in the skin or in the tissues beneath the skin. These infections must be treated promptly to avoid spreading to other parts of the body.
Lymphedema treatments are primarily aimed at improving the complications of the condition including:
- Getting lymph fluid moving from the tissues where it has built up
- Reducing the swelling in affected limbs
- Helping to control the return of this swelling
- Softening tissue which has become fibrotic through long-term swelling
- Improving overall health
What is the long term outlook for lymphedema?
Lymphedema cannot be cured, although treatments are available to help manage the condition and lessen the severity of symptoms. Because the immune system is weakened in areas affected by lymphedema, bacterial infections often develop in the skin or in the tissues beneath the skin. These infections must be treated promptly to avoid spreading to other parts of the body.Compression treatments and preventive measures for those at risk for secondary lymphedema can help minimize swelling and associated symptoms.