For cancer survivors, lymphedema is well-known as a potential side effect of treatment — something they need to monitor throughout their recoveries and over the course of the rest of their lives. Even the possibility of a diagnosis can be anxiety-inducing, which is why having a lymphedema specialist on call right here in southern Maryland offers added expertise and enhanced peace of mind for local patients.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a medical condition marked by swelling of arms and legs. Typically, this is experienced following the removal of lymph nodes, which is a common cancer treatment. The swelling experienced is caused by the buildup of fluid. For patients, this can feel like one arm is heavier than average or even have a tingling sensation.
As a chronic condition, there is no cure for lymphedema. However, regular management means that for most it’s generally not a life-threatening diagnosis. The most important factor for effective treatment is early recognition, which is easy to do with frequent check-ups to keep in contact with your medical team.
While lymphedema itself is not considered fatal, it is often a precursor to more serious illness. If early symptoms are not brought to the attention of an expert, the swelling associated with lymphedema can progress into cellulitis, an acute bacterial skin infection that demands life-saving antibiotics.
Typical treatment options to help manage lymphedema include pressure garments, various physical therapies, and lifestyle changes. Of course, personalized treatments will be recommended by specialists and may vary from patient to patient based on history and age, among other factors.
A New Specialist in Southern Maryland
For local breast cancer patients, UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation is proud to bring a new lymphedema expert to Southern Maryland. With physical therapist assistant (PTA), breast cancer, and lymphedema certifications, Ann Haynes is now accepting patients and appointments at our La Plata office.
Bringing over 15 years of medical experience, Haynes has worked with many types of lymphedema in her past. This includes face, neck, and lower extremities — in addition to the arms that are typically seen in breast cancer patients.
While Haynes recommends scheduling a first appointment before any treatment, she’s excited to work with patients at every phase of their journey with breast cancer.
Haynes emphasizes that while lymphedema is not as common as many breast cancer survivors think, it is extremely important to stay vigilant and monitor for potential symptoms. Should you develop any, Haynes is able to recommend and provide various treatment techniques, including manual drainage, bandaging, and light massages.
And because the lymphedema service is within the UM Charles Regional network of care, the entire experience will be seamless.
Visit the UM Charles Regional Rehabilitation website to learn more about our new lymphedema therapy and treatment options, and call (301) 609-5494 for an appointment today.