St. Lucie Medical Center’s Lymphedema Clinic provides lymphedema therapy by certified lymphedema therapists with extensive experience in treating swelling and other symptoms of lymphedema due to a variety of medical conditions.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a disorder of the lymphatic system, which plays an important role in circulation and immune function. One of these functions includes moving excess fluid and waste products such as protein molecules and dead cells from the tissues. The excess fluid is transported back to the heart to rejoin the circulatory system. If the lymphatic system is not functioning properly this excess protein-rich fluid builds up in the tissues and becomes lymphedema. Because of this swelling your skin may become dry and may crack easily, so that you are more susceptible to infection. There is no cure for lymphedema, the goal of treatment is to reduce the swelling and then maintain this reduction through a home program.
What Causes Lymphedema?
Common causes of lymphedema include:
- Breast Cancer (especially after removal of lymph nodes in the underarm area)
- Venous Insufficiency (problems with the return of blood through the veins of the legs)
- Traumatic Injuries
- Pregnancy (due to pressure on the blood vessels & lymphatic vessels in the groin area)
How Do I Become a Patient?
To schedule you for a lymphedema evaluation, you must have a referral from a physician. This referral can be from your primary physician or a specialist who is caring for you. Please call (772) 398-1928 for more information and to schedule an appointment once you have a referral from your physician.
How Should I Prepare for My First Visit to the Lymphedema Clinic?
- When you call for an initial appointment (772) 398-1928 you will be asked a few questions such as what area of your body has lymphedema and who is the referring physician. You will also be asked to provide insurance information so that we can pre-register you for the appointment, so have your health insurance card(s) available. Some health insurances require the patient to have a referral from their primary care physician and/or pre-authorization for lymphedema therapy. This will be discussed with you during the pre-registration process. Our office staff will be able to assist with any authorizations required for the initial and subsequent visits.
- Please prepare and bring the following with you to your first appointment:
- Make a list of all medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications like aspirin and vitamins).
- Make a list of any allergies you have, to medications and other things.
- Bring your health insurance card(s) and photo identification with you.
- Arrive on time for your appointment. You will be asked to complete a questionnaire about your medical history prior to being seen by the lymphedema therapist.
- Your initial visit will take longer to allow for a full assessment. Please schedule transportation and other appointments to allow for this.
What Happens on My First Visit?
Before beginning any treatment a certified lymphedema therapist will evaluate you. This assessment includes a review your medical history and general health, measurements of the arm(s)/leg(s), assessment of the condition of the skin, and a functional assessment. We may request information, such as history and physical, office visit notes, and results of previous laboratory and diagnostic tests from your primary physician. We will also begin educating you on lymphedema and lymphedema therapy, including some simple lifestyle changes that can decrease your risk of developing further swelling.
Your insurance co-payments will be collected at the time of each visit. Arrangements would need to be made with our registration staff for any other payment options.
What Types of Treatment Might I Receive?
The main goals of lymphedema therapy are to first reduce the swelling and then to teach our clients how to manage the swelling through a home program. The home program may include compression garments, gentle exercise, and simple lifestyle changes to help our clients continue to control the swelling after the therapy is discontinued. With the proximity to the SLMC Out Patient Rehabilitation Department, the lymphedema therapists also have access to rehabilitation equipment for functional training, including activities of daily living, as the patient’s swelling decreases.
To accomplish the goal of reducing swelling our lymphedema management program consists of 4 (four) parts:
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage (specialized manual strokes to help activate the lymphatic system)
- Compression Program (includes Bandaging and compression garment management)
- Careful Skin and Nail Care (to prevent injury and infection to affected area)
- Therapeutic Exercises (to help move lymph fluid by contraction of muscles)
Each of these components is very important to the success of the program. You will be taught a home program to help you manage your lymphedema after your therapy is discontinued.
For further information or to schedule an appointment contact us at (772) 398-1928.
We are located at:
St. Lucie Medical Park
1871 SE Tiffany Ave
Port St. Lucie, FL 34952