What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of high-protein fluid just beneath the skin. This swelling, or edema, occurs most commonly in the arm or leg, but it also may occur in other parts of the body including the breast or trunk, head and neck, or genitals. Lymphedema usually develops when lymph vessels are damaged or lymph nodes are removed (secondary lymphedema) but can also be present when lymphatic vessels are missing or impaired due to a hereditary condition (primary lymphedema).
What is Complete Decongestive Therapy for Lymphedema (CDT)?
Complete decongestive therapy (CDT), also called complex decongestive therapy, is an intensive program that combines many of the different treatment approaches discussed in this section, including bandaging, compression garments, manual lymphatic drainage, exercise, and self care. (See the list of links at left to read about these treatments.) As a technique, CDT originated in Europe and Australia but is now becoming more prevalent in the United States. Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of CDT for improving lymphedema symptoms such as swelling and pain.