Why It’s Important to Find a Qualified Lymphedema Therapist
If you are at risk for lymphedema or are already experiencing swelling it is important to establish a relationship with a qualified lymphedema therapist. The gold standard for treating lymphedema when swelling is present is called Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). Since every body is different and the lymphatic system is complete, CDT will vary for each individual. CDT often includes:
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
- wrapping in bandages
- compression garments
- lymphatic breathing/exercises
- skin care
- an introduction to lymphedema self-care routines
Treatments are generally three times a week for 6 to 8 weeks. The goal is to enter a maintenance phase, where compression garments are worn instead of bandaging, and patients can maintain their wellness with self-care routines at home.
Look for Credentials
Licensed massage therapists, physical therapists and physicians are eligible to receive training to become a Certified Lymphedema Therapist, which is a 135 hour program including a written and hands on exam, that leads to certification. It is important to note that lymphatic massage or MLD alone, is not the same as CDT.
To be effective, lymphedema treatment should include MLD and compression. That’s why it’s called complete decongestive care. Many massage therapists receive training in their initial massage training in lymphatic drainage, but it is not the same as lymphedema treatment. Please check the credentials of the healthcare provider you select; as their training will have a big impact on your wellness, along with your safety and effectiveness of your sessions.
How to Screen your Candidates
To find a qualified lymphedema therapist that’s a good fit for you, I suggest calling at least three therapists and asking these questions on the phone before scheduling an appointment:
- Where did you receive your training?
- What is your background? (PT? LMT? MD?)
- What would a typical session look like?
- Why did you become a lymphedema therapist?
Resources for You
My alma mater is Academy of Lymphatic Studies, but there are several reputable educational institutions that certify therapists to treat lymphedema patients. Not all graduates of these programs chose to become a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. To find a qualified lymphedema therapist near you from any of these reputable schools, use the school directories listed below.
Dr. Vodder School International
Dr. Vodder School International therapists have been trained in CDT and MLD and have either updated or completed their training within the past two years. To find a Vodder School therapist scroll below Courses then Find A Professional.
Klose offers a 135 hour course that teaches the skills and knowledge necessary to safely and effectively treat patients with lymphedema using MLD and CDT. They offer a directory of local therapists.
Academy of Lymphatic Studies (ACOLS)
ACOLS offers a 135 hour certification training for healthcare professionals to safely and effectively treat and manage lymphedema using MLD and CDT.
MLD Institute International
The MLD Institute International provides certification and continuing education to massage and medical professionals in MLD only, not CDT. This would be appropriate if you are in maintenance phase and only require MLD.
Healing Kneads Massage
At Healing Kneads Massage Therapy, our therapists have received training from the Academy of Lymphatic Studies (ACOLS), in both MLD and Lymphedema Management. We have the skills to provide expert care, and the compassion to provide the care in a safe, compassionate way. We offer free phone consults as well, to answer any questions you may have about your treatment or our credentials. Learn more about our therapists here.
Want to learn more about how massage therapy can help with lymphedema treatment?
We can’t wait to partner with you in your recovery!