When you first notice any signs or symptoms of lymphedema, your general practitioner (GP) or a nurse is usually the one you refer to. The basic diagnostics for lymphedema focus on your medical history and the physical exam of your body. Your GP or a nurse will probably refer you to a specialist for lymphedema to interpret the results or confirm the diagnosis.
Physicians or nurses should have a specific training and the appropriate qualification to diagnose and treat lipedema. Physicians often come from the following specialties:
- Internal medicine – a specialty for diseases of the inner organs.
- Dermatology – a specialty for diseases of the skin, also covering phlebology (diseases of the veins).
- Angiology – a specialty for diseases of the blood vessels.
Your specialist may also initiate advanced diagnostics with imaging techniques that require a radiologist. When your diagnosis is confirmed, your HCP will develop a holistic therapy plan to address your signs and symptoms.
Lymphedema treatment usually requires a team of different specialties that include:
- A physiotherapist with qualification to perform Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and compression therapy.
- A dietician in case you have problems maintaining your weight.
- A psychologist who can teach you how to cope with a long-term disease such as lymphedema.
- An oncologist in case your lymphedema is associated with cancer.
- A surgeon to discuss surgical therapies for your lymphedema, if appropriate.
- A medical supply store with qualified personnel to get the right compression garments.
Depending on your disease's severity, your HCP may also refer you to a specialized lymphedema clinic for the first weeks of your treatment. Lymphedema clinics have the advantage that all specialties work together in one place. This can be especially important for lymphedema treatment due to cancer, very old (geriatric) patients, or patients with primary lymphedema.
HCPs from different specialties must work together. Any changes in your signs and symptoms of lymphedema can require a change to your treatment plan. A deep understanding of the disease also helps you notice any changes by yourself and makes it easier to communicate with your HCPs.
Our HCP Finder can help you to find HCPs with an appropriate qualification in your area.
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Claudia Lymphedema patient