Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT)

Complete Decongestive Therapy is an individualised program that combines a combination of treatments to reduce swelling of a Lymphoedema Limb.

The program can include:

  • Measuring of the affected limb(s) – which allows us to
    keep a record of how the process is going.
  • Lymphatic Drainage Sequence – simple steps to open up your lymphatic system.  It is taught to you in your initial consultation so you can continue this at home each day.
  • Lymphatic Drainage Massage of the limb(s) – gentle stokes encouraging lymph to move towards the heart.
  • Compression Bandaging – quite constrictive on the swollen limb. It is worn 24/7, changed every 2 to 4 days. Once all fluid is reduced the bandaging can stop. How many bandages will depend on how your body reacts to the compression and how much fluid there is to drain.
  • Compression garments – maintain the size of your limb, they do not reduce the limb size. Compression garments are measured to fit your limb once excess fluid has been reduced with compression bandaging.
  • Discussion of exercises and skin care – There are a variety of options you can do to help your lymphatic system. We will discuss what  will best suit you and your lifestyle.
  • Establishing a program to manage your Lymphoedema – again we discuss your lifestyle and work a program that will suit you. No two people are the same.

The sooner you start treatment, the easier and quicker you will be able to reduce swelling and minimise the risk of complications to the limb(s).

What is Lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is swelling in the body, due to the lymphatic vessels not being able to ‘mop’ up excess fluid in the body.  Unfortunately Lymphoedema will not heal itself, treatment is needed to control and then manage the swelling.

Lymphoedema is generally in a limb, but can occur anywhere in the body. Once the fluid has been drained from the affected area, using Complete Decongestive Therapy, a compression garment will to be measured and worn daily.

Primary Lymphoedema vs Secondary Lymphoedema:

Primary Lymphoedema is when someone is born with a lymphatic system that has not developed properly. This causes the lymph vessels to not collect excess fluid and results in a limb(s) swelling. Primary Lymphoedema can present at birth or in adulthood. Stress or trauma to the body as an adult can trigger the swelling to occur, if not present as a baby.

Secondary Lymphoedema occurs after illness, surgery, radiation therapy or an accident, causing trauma to the lymphatic vessels and/or lymph nodes. Again the swelling may not present immediately after the incident (e.g. lymph node removal/radiation treatment) it can be triggered years later. This is why it  is imperative to care for the affected limb and look after the skin.

Lymphatic Sequence:

Lymphatic Sequence is a set of steps to help open up the lymphatic system.  A blockage of the lymphatic system can cause fluid to become stagnant in our body which can lead to swelling and/or illness. Your initial Lymphatic Drainage Massage we will show you how to do your own Lymphatic Sequence so you can do it at home. Ideally it should be done each day – especially if you have swelling or congestion.

CDT Measuring