Lymphedema Management

Hartford HealthCare is recognized by the Lymphatic Education & Research Network as one of four Centers of Excellence for Conservative Care in the world.

This designation is awarded to institutions like Hartford HealthCare whose program and team of therapists excel in knowledge and experience with lymphedema, providing outstanding quality care to patients with lymphedema. We look forward to partnering with you to manage your lymphedema.

Lymphatic Care Center of Excellence

What is Lymphedema?

The lymphatic system is a network of vessels that transports lymph, a protein-rich fluid, back to the blood. Lymphedema is a chronic swelling, due to an accumulation of this lymph fluid in the soft tissue. The buildup of stagnant fluid causes inflammation of the tissue, a mild to severe increase in limb girth, a decrease in tissue healing ability, and a high susceptibility to infections or cellulitis in the affected limb.

Diagram: The Lymphatic System

Lymphedema most often occurs in the arm or leg, but can also occur in the face, neck,
abdomen, or genitals. Primary lymphedema is the result of missing or impaired lymphatic vessels; symptoms may develop at birth or later in life. Secondary lymphedema, a much more common type, is a result of lymph vessel damage or lymph node removal during surgery or radiation therapy. It may also occur after injury, scarring, trauma, or infection of the lymphatic system.

What causes lymphedema?

Lymphedema is caused when there is damage or blockage of the lymphatic system. This blockage can be caused by infection, cancer, scar tissue from radiation therapy, trauma or surgery, or surgical removal of the lymph nodes. Obesity, lack of movement, and venous disease are also common causes of lymphedema. Lymphedema occurs when the lymph vessels are no longer able to carry all of the lymph fluid out of the affected body part and the fluid builds up in the tissue, causing swelling and inflammation.

What are symptoms of lymphedema?

  • Swelling
  • Skin tightness
  • Aching or discomfort
  • Feeling of heaviness, fullness or fatigue in the impacted body part
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Hardening or thickening of the skin

A Comprehensive Lymphedema Treatment Program

Lymphedema Therapy Guide
Download the Lymphedema Therapy Treatment Care Packet for patients
English | Spanish


Evaluation by a therapist includes:

  • Complete medical history
  • Sensory evaluation & pain assessment
  • Range of motion and muscle testing
  • Girth measurements
  • Daily living and work requirements

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)

This manual technique reroutes lymph around blocked or damaged lymph nodes. The technique also reduces the susceptibility for infection, softens tissue, reduces edema,
and improves the appearance and functional use of the extremity.

Compression Bandaging

Short stretch bandages are used to prevent the re-accumulation of evacuated lymph fluid and to break up deposits of accumulated scar and connective tissue. During the active phase of treatment, the bandages stay in place until the next MLD session begins. During the maintenance phase of therapy, the client is encouraged to wear the bandages while sleeping.

HHCRN: Lymphedema Management Image

Exercise, Skin Care, and Infection Prevention

Clients may be taught a series of low exertion exercises and diaphragmatic breathing to
stimulate lymphatic return. Training on skin care, infection recognition and response is
also included.

Home Maintenance Instruction

Clients are instructed in self-bandaging, daily use of compression garments, and exercise for the maintenance phase of therapy. Clients are assisted in the purchase, care, and replacement of an appropriate compression garment. Regular follow up visits are scheduled to assess progress and to initiate compression garment replacement.



2 Northwestern Drive
Bloomfield, CT 06002
Phone: 860.286.8882
Fax: 860.286.5481

New Britain
Jerome Home

975 Corbin Avenue
New Britain, CT 06052
Phone: 860.356.8233
Fax: 860.356.8288


701 North Colony Road
Suite 102
Wallingford, CT 06492
Phone: 203.694.5528
Fax: 203.694.5529


406 Farmington Ave.
2nd Floor
Farmington, CT 06032
Phone: 860.677.7464
Fax: 860.677.7465

Jefferson House

1 John H. Stewart Drive
Newington, CT 06111
Phone: 860.667.4453
Fax: 860.667.4459

West Hartford

334 North Main Street
West Hartford, CT 06117
Phone: 860.236.7771
Fax: 860.586.7112


330 Western Blvd.
Glastonbury, CT 06033
Phone: 860.657.4723
Fax: 860.652.4340

Backus Outpatient
Care Center

111 Salem Turnpike
Norwich, CT 06360
Phone: 860.823.6317
Fax: 860.823.6540

Balance Center

Within CT ENT Office
*Head & Neck Only
988 Silas Deane Hwy.
Wethersfield, CT 06109
Phone: 860.696.2662
Fax: 860.696.2663


Cloverleaf Building
1064 East Main St.
Suite 205
Meriden, CT 06450
Phone: 203.694.6490
Fax: 203.630.3600

South Windsor

1559 Sullivan Avenue
South Windsor, CT 06074
Phone: 860.696.2650
Fax: 860.696.2655


5 Founders Street
196 Waterford Parkway South, Suite 202
Waterford, CT 06385
Phone: 860.439.0440
Fax: 860.439.0442

New Britain

183 North Mountain Rd.
New Britain, CT 06053
Phone: 860.827.4172
Fax: 860.827.4186


1012 East Main Street
Torrington, CT 06790
Phone: 860.496.0046
Fax: 860.496.0036


80 South Main Street
Suite LL02
Winsted, CT 06098
Phone: 860.738.5980
Fax: 860.379.1023

New Britain

HOCC New Britain
General Campus
100 Grand Street
New Britain, CT 06050
Phone: 860.224.5121
Fax: 860.224.5952

Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network