Lymphedema therapy available at Aspirus Iron River

Lisa Curnow, OTR/L, CLT, occupational therapist with Aspirus Iron River Hospital and Clinics, is now certified in lymphedema therapy. This certification designates Curnow as having specialized skills and knowledge to treat patients with lymphedema.

Lymphedema is a chronic inflammatory condition where the buildup of protein-rich fluids in soft body tissues causes swelling, often in the arms or legs. It occurs when the lymphatic system is either faulty or damaged. Lymphedema is frequently misdiagnosed, which either causes the condition to be treated late or not be treated at all.

“Lymphedema can develop in any part of the body,” Curnow said. “It has common symptoms like persistent swelling in the arm or leg; heaviness or tightness in the limbs; decreased flexibility; skin feeling tight or difficulty fitting into clothing in one specific area.”

Lymphedema is a common complication after surgery or may be brought on by contributing factors like cancer treatment, trauma or a fall. It is a chronic condition that develops slowly. The sooner treatment is started, the more effective the treatment can be.

“I have lymphedema in my arms and hands from breast cancer surgery 10 years ago,” Curnow said. “It’s really important to me to help others.”

Lymphedema can occur at any age. People can be born with abnormalities in the lymphatic system, known as Primary Lymphedema. With this, swelling can be present at birth or may develop later in life. Most lymphedema in the U.S. is Secondary Lymphedema, which occurs from damage to the lymphatic system, such as with cancer, radiation, burns, infections, surgery or trauma.

The risk of developing lymphedema does not diminish over time but is a lifelong risk. If untreated – or poorly treated – lymphedema can lead to complications including recurrent infections, non-healing wounds, disfigurement, pain, decreased limb function, difficulty with daily living tasks, and emotional and social distress.

Aspirus Health currently offers free 15-minute consultations with any physical, occupational or speech therapist. The consultations allow individuals to have an area or problem examined, and to discuss whether therapy may be beneficial.


For more information about Aspirus Health’s team of certified lymphedema therapists or other available outpatient therapy services, visit or call 906-265-0499.