Woman having arm looked at by physician

Upper extremity lymphedema is a chronic disease that can occur after surgery for breast cancer.

During breast cancer surgery, lymph nodes, which help regulate the body's fluid balance and are part of the immune system, are removed.

This can lead to swelling, which is lymphedema.

While it cannot be cured, it can be treated and there are steps that can be taken to reduce swelling.

Breast cancer rehabilitation staff at UM Charles Regional Medical Pavilion are experts at treating upper extremity lymphedema. To make an appointment, call 301-609-5494.

Preventing Upper Extremity Lymphedema

While it cannot be cured or completely prevented, lymphedema can be reduced by taking action after surgery. Some measures to take include:

  • Avoiding overuse of the arms and hands too soon after surgery
  • Losing weight
  • Protecting your skin
  • Strengthening the arms and upper body over time

Symptoms of Upper Extremity Lymphedema

Swelling of the arm on the side of the body where lymph nodes were removed is the main symptom of upper extremity lymphedema.

This could range from a feeling of heaviness in the arm to extreme swelling where one arm appears to be much larger than the other. Other symptoms include:

  • Aching or weakness in the arm
  • Clothes fitting more tightly
  • Skin changing

Treating Upper Extremity Lymphedema

Our physical therapists will work with you to develop a rehabilitation plan specifically for you.

Our care plan may include:

  • Axillary Web Cording Treatment
  • Bandaging
  • Manual Lymph Drainage
  • Patient Education
  • Scar Tissue Management
  • Supportive Care
  • Therapeutic Exercises

Make an Appointment

Our team is ready to help you prevent and treat upper extremity lymphedema. To speak with a member of our team or to make an appointment, call 301-609-5494.