Avera Medical Minute: Lymphedema - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute: Lymphedema

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Rhonda Newton talks about how she copes with Lymphedema. Rhonda Newton talks about how she copes with Lymphedema.

Rhonda Newton from Tyler, Minnesota has lymphedema.  She manages it through physical therapy and routine exercise. Lymphedema is a common side effect of mastectomy's. Rhonda had a double mastectomy and all of her lymph nodes removed on her right side in December of 2006.

(Definition of Lymphedema: Lymph is a clear fluid that is carried through very small channels throughout the body (much like blood is carried through blood vessels). Blocking the flow of this fluid results in the build up of lymph in the surrounding tissues. It can occur any where on the body but commonly appears most notably in either the arms or the legs and is called lymphedema. It can be a primary or secondary disorder characterized by the accumulation of lymph in soft tissues, caused by inflammation, obstruction, or removal of lymph channels.) 

Paula Jones is Rhonda's physical therapist. She says, " When you've disrupted the pathway of the lymph system, you get a back up of fluid in the arm or leg. The main treatment is a manual lymph drainage massage to open up alternative pathway. It's an intensive massage that lasts an hour."

Rhonda is a quilter and was cutting material when she noticed swelling and pain in her forearm a month after her surgery (January 2007). Her oncologist immediately sent her to physical therapist Paula Jones at Avera McKennan Outpatient Therapy.

Rhonda says, "I do my exercises each day, massages each day. I've learned to bandage myself every evening. Through coming here I learned to manage it and I do the best I can so I can do my daily routine. It's a great balancing act now. I have to exercise my arm, but not over exercise it or over use it."

Rhonda has to be really careful with her right arm. That means never getting her blood pressure taken on her right arm or get blood drawn there because the slightest amount of trauma to that area could cause a flare up.

Paula says, "You can't fix it. Once you have it, you control it."

Rhonda beat breast cancer, went through two rounds of chemo therapy, two surgeries and endured radiation... now she's learned to live with lymphedema. Rhonda no longer cuts fabric since that may have triggered the lymphedema. She wears bandages every night to keep the fluid from building up.

For more information go to www.averamckennan.com


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