Lymphoma is a condition in which excess fluid collects in a part of the body. Lymphoma is caused by damage to the thilves or a blockage that leads to chronic swelling.

It is important to treat or manage the disease. It can cause other problems if left unaddressed. There is no cure for lymphedema, but it is possible to manage it with the help of the CDT.

Medical professionals consider CDT an effective treatment for lymphedema because it includes many approaches. The goal of CDT is to reduce the pain and swelling associated with lymphedema.

The key components of a program are listed.

  • Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). Certified therapists use manual techniques to gently massage your affected limbs. This helps to release and move trapped fluid so that the body can reabsorb it.
  • Compression. Bandages or compression sleeves wrapped around the affected area provide pressure. This helps to move excess fluid and prevent it from returning. This can reduce swelling and allow fluid to be drained.
  • Exercises. Remedial exercises are an important part of both CDT phases. Regular exercises can help improve the flow of lymph fluid in your body and help prevent swelling. Wearing compression sleeves or garments while exercising can help.
  • Skin care. Common side effects of lymphedema include skin infections and skin changes. Additionally, wearing compression garments may make your skin dry and itchy, increasing the risk of infections. It’s important to clean your skin regularly and protect it from the sun by wearing sunscreen.

In addition to multiple components, the two phases of the CDT are also included.

Phase 1: Intensive therapy

Also known as the decongestion phase, this first phase aims to bring down swelling and allow the skin to improve. How long this phase takes depends on how severe your lymphedema is. Typically, according to healthcare professionals at OncoLink, it can last 2 to 4 weeks.

The healthcare specialists recommend that you wear your compression garments for up to 23 hours a day during this phase. You should only remove them to clean your skin. If your doctor and therapist think your lymphedema is not severe, you may be able to skip the second phase.

After your doctor has approved a treatment plan, a certified physical or occupational therapist will perform MLD. In some cases, as detailed in this 2017 study, a compression machine might drain the lymphatic fluid.

Simple hand techniques can be used to perform lymphatic drainage on yourself or a family member.

Phase 2: Maintenance therapy

The goal of the second phase is to build on the success of the first. Phase 2 should start right after phase 1 because a delay can cause swelling to return.

Maintenance treatment can last for a long time. It depends on how much you have lymphedema.

There are health conditions that can cause lymphedema. Sometimes it can happen on its own. People with lymphedema may benefit from decongestive therapy.

According to this 2018 study, although it’s rare, primary lymphedema can be an inherited genetic condition that can affect children and adults.

Secondary causes of lymphedema are more common. It can result from something.

  • Either short-term or long-term.
  • There are side effects of medical treatment.
  • Cellulitis is chronic.

This 2021 overview indicates that the most common cause of lymphedema in the United States is cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation.

CDT is generally safe. Research from 2020 on CDT found no serious safety issues with this therapy and reported that most people had positive results.

There are risks and side effects with any therapy or treatment.

CDT may not be right for people with certain conditions. A 2020 study lists several such conditions, including:

  • rapid heart failure.
  • There is a deep vein thrombosis.
  • asthma
  • low blood pressure.
  • The disorder of the thyroid.
  • The arterial insufficiency is severe.
  • Nerve damage.

Ask your doctor or therapist about any concerns you have.

The same things are used for a child and an adult. A child or teenager undergoing this therapy may need additional emotional support from their caregivers or a mental health expert.

Children who need CDT will need custom-made compression garments ordered by their doctor or physical or occupational therapist. They will need to replace their garments as they grow.

How effective is decongestive therapy?

According to research from 2017, complete decongestive therapy is considered one of the best therapy programs for people with lymphedema. Many studies, such as this study from 2020, have found positive results if therapists correctly follow the steps.

What are decongestive exercises?

Remedial exercises used in CDT include light stretching and range of motion exercises. Initial exercises are designed to improve the lymphatic system. The National Health Service (NHS) says that you may also perform activities like cycling and swimming, which exercise the whole body.

Can I do lymphatic draining on my own?

Check with your doctor or therapist before trying any lymphatic drainage methods on yourself. You should not do manual draining if you have congestive heart failure or an active infection. If your doctor has cleared you, you can try lymphatic massage on yourself.

How do I find a certified therapist to do lymphatic draining?

Your doctor can refer you to a certified lymphatic therapist. You can also find therapists in your area using tools provided by the Lymphatic Association of North America (LANA) and the National Lymphedema Network.

You’ll want to ensure they have the letters CTL (“certified lymphatic therapist”) as part of their credentials. LANA-certified therapists will have the letters CTL-LANA. Per the LANA, they complete 135 hours of training as part of their certification.

Are there alternatives to complete decongestive therapy?

There are alternatives to CDT, including multi-layer compression bandaging (MCB). A 2018 study that compared these two types of therapies found that MCB is not only more accessible for people with lymphedema but is a more cost-effective alternative for elderly patients.

This 2021 study notes other treatments that may also help treat lymphedema, such as acupuncture, laser treatments, and deep oscillation.

Does insurance or Medicare usually cover complete decongestive therapy?

Medical insurance may cover CDT. Before starting, check with your insurance company.

According to the Medicare Coverage Database, Medicare will pay for only certain parts of your decongestive therapy program. You’ll require a diagnosis of lymphedema and services to be completed by a qualified clinician.

Lymphedema can cause other health problems and should not be left unaddressed.

The treatment for people with lymphedema is complete decongestive therapy. The many components of CDT help to manage your condition and improve your health related quality of life.

Discuss any concerns you have with your doctor.