If you have received breast or lung cancer treatment and are now experiencing swelling in your back, chest, or arms, you may have developed a condition known as “trunk lymphedema.”
This painful condition is often overlooked or written off as post-operative discomfort, however, if left untreated by a professional, trunk lymphedema can pose serious health risks. Luckily, Blue Ridge Physical Therapy in Johnson City, TN offers specialized physical therapy services to offset the painful symptoms of this condition.
Symptoms of Trunk Lymphedema
There are several symptoms associated with the development of trunk lymphedema. Similar to primary and secondary lymphedema, this condition does present itself through painful swelling, as well as through the following symptoms:
Pain in the shoulder area
Swelling in the shoulder area can be painful and often is a symptom of trunk lymphedema.
Swelling of the back
This particular kind of swelling appears as extra fat along the side of the trunk. Shoulder blades and upper back will also appear more full. If the right half of the body is affected, fullness across the waistline will also be present.
Anterior chest wall swelling
Often located in the affected breast, or chest wall, over the collarbone, and under the arm.
Swelling of the arm
Often swelling is located in the biceps, triceps, forearms, and around the wrists.
In the case of a reconstructive surgery, you may feel that the reconstructed breast is misshapen, too large, or uncomfortable to deal with.
Physical Therapy Treatment For Trunk Lymphedema
There is no cure for lymphedema, however, a physical therapist at Blue Ridge Physical Therapy can properly assess your condition, review your medical history and any surgeries or treatment you may have received to see how severe your condition is.
Although compression therapy is used for other kinds of lymphedema, it’s not recommended for trunk lymphedema, except for the use of compression pads that can be worn within a sports bra or other secure garment.
Three common trunk lymphedema treatment methods include:
Massage helps to compensate for the difficulty in obtaining compression. It also helps drain excess fluid, softens tissues, and eases pain. Your therapist can also teach you proper methods of at-home massage as well.
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)
This is a technique your physical therapist uses during treatment sessions to release lymph.
Moving muscles and flexing joints is necessary to stimulate the flow of lymph.
Your Blue Ridge Physical Therapy therapist may also advise you to avoid certain things, such as wearing anything that constricts your chest or waist, or wearing a heavy prosthesis. This restricts the natural flow of lymph and can make the condition worse.
Ready to Find Relief?
Your physical therapist’s goal is to reduce the amount of pain and swelling you experience from trunk lymphedema on a daily basis. They will work with you to create a proper plan of care for your condition, as well as teach you how to decrease the chances of your symptoms worsening in the future.
Contact Blue Ridge Physical Therapy in Johnson City, TN today for more information on treatment solutions for trunk lymphedema. Rest assured that you’re in good hands.