Complete Decongestive Treatment (CDT) for Lymphedema
Lymphedema is a serious medical condition in which the lymph fluid builds up in a limb or torso due to the lymph system being unable to transport the lymph load and causes swelling. Cancer is the most common cause of secondary lymphedema.
There is no cure for lymphedema and the goal of CDT is to reduce the swelling and maintain the reduction. For most patients this is achieveable as it is safe and non invasive.
Permission needs to be granted by the patient’s medical practitioner first before treatment can commence because there are contra-indications to CDT : eg Cardiac Edema (heart), Renal failure (kidney), chemo treatment (cancer),etc.
CDT works in 3 phases
- Phase 1 is to move the stagnant lymph fluid away from the affected area to an area where the lymph is flowing freely and to reduce the swelling with MLD techniques and short stretch bandaging. Ideally these treatments are done 3 – 5 times per week for 3 – 4 weeks, depending on the severity of the affected area. Once the swelling is reduced the patient will be fitted for a compression garment.
- Phase 2 is where the patients plays a big role in their ongoing self-care by wearing compression garment, which has been especially made for them) during the day and short stretch bandaging at night as well as doing self manual lymph drainage, being meticulous with skin care regime and gentle exercise. This is to be done for about 3 months after phase
- Phase 3 – if patients have been strict with the above then they should be able to just wear the compression garment during the day + no bandaging at night.
If the compression garment becomes too small then they will come back for CDT treatments : 3 – 4 times per week until the garment fits again.