Complete Decongestive Therapy is a skilled technique to:
- Prevent skin infection
- Manually transport lymph fluid to functional lymph node groups
- Perform limb clearance exercises
- Layered or foam-channeled compression therapy
The treatment phase is best performed daily for 2-6 weeks, depending on the severity of fibrosis and inflammation. Manual lymph drainage of the affected limb will take 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on size and involvement of the limb. Layered or channeled bandaging must be applied immediately following lymph transport to prevent re-accumulation of the lymph fluid. Therapeutic exercises must be performed with compression therapy and further assist in lymph transport. It is very important to prevent abrasions to the skin; lymph flow in the affected limb is static or sluggish and can quickly cause cellulitis without proper care. The self-care phase consists of performing self-manual lymph drainage, compression therapy, continued healthy skin care prevention, and therapeutic exercise to naturally assist in lymph flow. Treatments should be performed by a competent therapist who has been certified in lymphedema treatment. Lymphology Association of North America certification is the highest level of certification.
Nakao F, Furutani A, Yoshimura K, et al. The outcomes of program based on complex decongestive physiotherapy for a patient with secondary lymphedema caused by infection on the leg. Fukuoka Igaku Zasshi. 2009;100(6):235-241.