Lymphedema is treated at Berkshire Medical Center using the Vodder method of Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) and Combined Decongestive Therapy. This is a four-part treatment program:
- MLD is a slow, repetitive sequential massage that reduces swelling by stimulating the lymph vessels to draw in more of the lymph fluid. When necessary, flow of lymph is redirected into functioning lymph vessels.
- Compression bandages are used to prevent re-flow of lymph fluid between sessions. The bandages also serve to increase lymph flow by providing resistance to muscle activity, creating a pump-like action on lymph vessels. Daytime use of bandages is replaced by custom-fit garments once maximum reduction of swelling is achieved.
- Instruction in exercises which help increase lymph flow is given early in the program. Daily exercising is an important part of the program.
- Skin care. Excellent nail care and skin cleansing with antibacterial washes and neutral pH balanced soap helps to eliminate bacterial and fungal growth and minimize the possibility of cellulitis and other infections.
Depending on the severity of the lymphedema, MLD is performed 4-5 times per week. Sessions are 60 - 90 minutes, and treatment typically ranges from 4-8 weeks. In order to maintain the results achieved during active treatment, a commitment to lifestyle changes including exercise, good nutrition, skin care, and on-going use of compression garments with periodic bandaging is essential. Follow-up visits are recommended. A doctor's prescription for combined decongestive therapy including a medical diagnosis is required for treatment.