PhysioCare’s own Becky Miller, PT, DPT, CLT, recently completed training to become a Certified Lymphedema Therapist (CLT), propelling PhysioCare Physical Therapy to start a new lymphedema therapy program at its Woodinville clinic.
A physical therapist on the PhysioCare team for five years and a former massage therapist, Miller earned this certification by completing a 135-hour training course in Complete Decongestive Therapy. The certification allows her to treat patients with lymphedema and successfully manage their symptoms.
“It’s a condition that doesn’t heal itself, but it’s very manageable through the right treatment and focus by both the patient and the therapist,” Miller said. “Treating lymphedema allows me to combine my skills and both a physical and massage therapist.”
Causes and treatment of lymphedema
Lymphedema is a condition caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system, leading to swelling in an arm or leg. With the swelling, Miller said, often comes achiness, soreness, pain and a limited range of motion, limiting a person’s ability to experience the life they once lived.
“Most often, people get lymphedema after or during cancer treatment – breast, cervical or prostate cancer,” said Miller. “Sometimes it comes on during treatment, and sometimes months after. Then some people were just born with a genetic predisposition for lymphedema, but it may not occur until later in life.”
While there is no cure for lymphedema, Miller said a specially trained physical therapist can help patients reduce the swelling, discomfort and pain that results from lymphedema, all while helping them improve their range of motion. Individualized treatment plans may include manual lymphatic drainage, massage, compression therapy, customized exercise programs, hygiene and skin care, and education on self-care.
According to Miller, common first signs of lymphedema include a feeling of heaviness or stiffness in an arm or leg, an observable swelling without an obvious cause, tightness of the skin, and clothes or jewelry fitting too tightly, leaving behind indentations or marks in the skin.
“People will kind of complain about one limb – it can be both – being tired, feeling heavy or aching,” she said. “You usually don’t see the swelling until a ways down the road.”
Miller earned her doctorate of physical therapy (DPT) from the University of Montana in 2011 and was hired by PhysioCare Physical Therapy later that year. Now an established member of the physical therapy team, Miller said she’s eager to provide relief to patients through PhysioCare’s new lymphedema therapy program.
“There’s not a lot of people who think about the lymphatic system,” she said. “This gives me the opportunity to apply my skills within an important niche. I enjoy working closely with patients to create treatment plans that allow each to maintain his or her typical lifestyle, even with a diagnosis of a progressive condition such as lymphedema.”
Want to learn more about lymphedema and treatment options? Contact us today!