Johnston Memorial Hospital Lymphedema Rehabilitation

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is swelling in an arm, leg or abdomen caused by a dysfunction in the body's lymphatic system.

Primary Lymphedema is caused by a defect in lymph vessels or lymph nodes at birth, which can result in swelling at any time throughout life.

Secondary Lymphedema
is caused by injury or surgical trauma to lymph vessels or nodes.  The most common cause of secondary lymphedema is surgery and radiation for cancer, or venous dysfunction in the legs.

Signs and Symptoms of Lymphedema

Swelling, pain and heaviness in the arm or leg are the most common symptoms.  Early diagnosis and treatment are essential.  When left untreated, the lymph vessels and surrounding tissues may become harder and less elastic.  This may result in greater swelling.

Who is at risk?

Anyone who has sustained trauma to the lymph system is at risk.  People who have had nodes removed followed by chemotherapy or radiation are at a higher risk.  Lymphedema may occur within a few days of surgery or even several years later.  Infection is the primary cause of lymphedema.  People who are overweight or have problems with venous return are also at risk.

Treatment for Lymphedema

While there is no cure, lymphedema can be controlled with proper treatment.  Mountain States Rehabilitation at Johnston Memorial Hospital provides lymphedema treatment to meet each person's individual needs.

Therapy is provided by a certified lymphedema physical therapist and a licensed physical therapist assistant.  Treatment includes:
  • Evaluation
  • Education
  • Compression
  • Manual lymph drainage
  • Exercises
  • Prevention

Lymphedema Prevention

The risk of developing lymphedema is always present when trauma occurs to the lymph system.  To decrease the risk, be sure to maintain a healthy diet, proper weight control, an active lifestyle, practice good skin care, avoid infections, wear loose clothing and jewelry, and check the arm or leg often for swelling and skin changes.

How do I get started?

If you feel our program is right for you, consult your physician.  Please bring a signed referral from your physician at your first appointment  A physicians referral form is included with this brochure for your convenience. 

For more information or to make an appointment, call Mountain States Rehabilitation, Johnston Memorial Hospital at 276-623-0153 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.  We are located in the Camille Center, Suite G, 445 Porterfield Highway, Abingdon, VA.

Payment information

Most insurance companies cover outpatient physical therapy services.  Insurance pre-authorization may be necessary.  Please have your insurance information handy when you come in for an appointment.