Lymphedema Treatment

Complex Decongestive Therapy

Complex decongestive therapy (CDT) is a primary tool in lymphedema and venous insufficiency management consisting of manual lymph drainage (MLD), short stretch compression bandaging, therapeutic exercises, and skin care. CDT usually also involves deep breathing exercises, compression garments and dietary measures. Once limb(s) have been reduced in size, costly (and uncomfortable) compression garments must be worn during waking hours. Very often, compression bandaging or an expensive compression device must be worn at night to keep the limb(s) reduced in size.

What is Manual Lymph Drainage? (MLD)

Developed in Europe in the 1930s by Dr. Emil and Estrid Vodder, Manual Lymph Drainage is a safe, effective, yet gentle approach to cleansing the body’s tissues. MLD is drains excess fluid from the tissues and also has a detoxifying effect. It can benefit a healthy person as well as being applied to more than 60 different conditions.

Scientific studies, as well as vast clinical experience, have supported the effectiveness of MLD.

The therapeutic benefits of MLD, evidenced by more than 30 years of research, are well documented. It is widely prescribed by physicians in Europe and many physicians in the United States and Canada also recognize the benefits of MLD for their patients.

Benefits of Manual Lymph Drainage

  1. Removes metabolic wastes, excess water, toxins, bacteria, large protein molecules and foreign substances from the tissues.
  2. Through its gentle rhythmical precise hand movements, alleviates pain by greatly reducing the pain signals sent to the brain.
  3. Relaxes the sympathetic nervous system, thus helping to relieve stress.
  4. Supports and enhances the action of the immune system.
  5. Helps the body to heal more quickly from injuries, surgical trauma, chronic conditions and edema.
  6. Helps to minimize scar formation.

Indications for MLD


  • meniere’s disease
  • sinusitis
  • tinnitus


  • acne/eczema
  • leg ulcers
  • burns/scars


  • active cancer
  • acute infection
  • toxic poisoning
  • thrombosis (blood clots)


  • tension headaches
  • migraines
  • neuralgia, RSD
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • stress reduction


  • post-mastectomy edema
  • post hysterectomy edema
  • varicose veins
  • post-surgical swelling
  • pre-surgery recovery
  • pre/post cosmetic surgery
  • post-amputation
  • post-vein stripping


  • sprains/strains
  • muscle/ligament
  • tears
  • fractures/dislocations
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • tendonitis
  • neck pain/whiplash
  • chronic pain


  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic fatigue
  • toxic poisoning
  • scleroderma

The above information was from a brochure prepared in cooperation with NAVALT and the North American Vodder Association of Lymphatic Therapy.

The Role of Lymph Drainage in Treatment of Lymphedema-


Skin and Nail Care

The purpose is to inspect skin, provide moisture and prevent infection.

For more information and tips please visit:

International consensus: The Best Practice for the Management of Lymphedema

Lymph Notes Web Site

Skin and Nail Care in Lymphedema Management-

Compression Bandaging

This involves wrapping multi-layered bandages around affected limb(s).

Correct way to apply toe and multi-layer bandaging to Lymphoedema patients

Two Lymphoedema specialists from Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board demonstrate how to correctly apply toe bandages and multi-layer bandages to the limbs of patients with lymphoedema. Lymphoedema is the swelling of limbs because of injury or damage to the lymphatic system. It is sometimes the side effect of treatment for other conditions.

A Must Read on Proper Bandaging!!!!!

Great Great Article!!

The Role of Short Stretch Bandages in Management of Lymphedema-

Therapeutic Exercises

This includes movement of the limb(s) through a range of motion with bandaging in place.

Aerobic Exercises for Lymphedema

National Cancer Institute – Treatment of Lymphedima – Exercise

Lymphedema People – Exercises for Lymphedema

Resistive Exercises  

Decongestive and Breathing Exercises

Aquatic Exercises

Exercise for the Arm-Lymphedema Wand Exercise (VIDEO)

Exercise while sitting in a chair

Exercise for lymphedema to reduce lymphedema swellings and avoid infections. There are a number of excellent Lymphedema exercises which should be a part of any lymphedema sufferers tool kit in managing this condition. Check out our guide on how to effectively reduce swellings and heal the lymphatic system.

Successful management of lymphedema requires the cooperation of lymphedema educated physicians, therapists, compression garment suppliers, as well as patients and family members. Exercises for patients with Lymphoedema of the leg(s)