Content warning: This presentation includes sensitive images.
The genital region and sexuality are still taboo in most cultures and medical practices. This applies to the world of lymphedema also. Lymphedema research is lacking in incidence, symptoms, and treatment of genital lymphedema for both males and females.
For any persons presenting with trunk and/or lower limb lymphedema, the genital region should be assessed, including internal on females if properly trained. The area should not just be assessed for edema; yet, for other symptoms or conditions associated with lymphedema and comorbidities. To do this, one must first have a better understanding of the pelvic floor, its role in function, and signs/symptoms of dysfunctions in the area.
The pelvic floor is responsible for the support of the pelvic organs, assistance in bladder and bowel control, aids in sexual function, and plays a key role in childbirth for women. Another role not defined is the assistance in lymphatic drainage of the pelvic lymph nodes and vessels. When someone undergoes cancer treatment in the area and/or develops lymphedema in the area, all possible dysfunctions need to be explored. Is there muscle imbalance or spasm? Is there stress on the bowel or bladder? Is the person able to participate in intimacy without limitations? Is there pain or nerve involvement? What is the hygiene and skin integrity of the area? How are these symptoms or dysfunctions impacting the person’s quality of life?
This presentation discusses the importance of all of these concepts for a more complete understanding on how the pelvic floor plays an integral role with lymphedema of the trunk and/or lower limb.
About our Speaker
Shelley DiCecco, PT, PhD, CLT-LANA, is an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Her clinical experience includes orthopedics, lymphedema, and pelvic dysfunctions in both private practice and hospital settings.
Dr. DiCecco became a woman’s health specialist for pelvic floor disorders in 2000 and a certified lymphedema therapist in 2001. She received her PhD from Texas Woman’s University in the Philosophy of Physical Therapy in 2012. Her research and dissertation were on treatment techniques for females with genital lymphedema with or without lower extremity involvement. Dr. DiCecco completed her Lymphology Association of North America (LANA) certification in 2013 and her training as a Casley-Smith International certified instructor in 2016.
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