What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is an abnormal collection of protein-rich fluid that accumulates in the body. Lymphedema is commonly seen in the arms or legs, but can also be seen in the head, neck, groin, or abdomen. Lymphedema is a chronic condition and is a life-long process for the patient to maintain the edema and prevent exacerbation of the collection of fluid. There are two types of lymphedema: primary (people are born with it) or secondary (developed due to a damaged lymph system or removal of lymph nodes.)
What causes Lymphedema?
People who have been diagnosed with primary lymphedema are born with lymphedema due to genetic or hereditary conditions. Secondary lymphedema is usually a result of a damaged lymphatic system in the body due to the removal of lymph nodes, trauma, or radiation treatment to a specific body region. Surgery, open sores/wounds, and obesity all may cause lymphedema.
How is Lymphedema treated?
Lymphedema treatment should only be performed by a certified lymphedema therapist that is trained in Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). CDT involves the interventions of manual lymph drainage, compression wrapping, proper skin care, gentle exercise and instruction in self lymphedema treatment. Our Certified Lymphedema Therapist, Julie, will help you to reduce the fluid accumulation and prevent exacerbation of this chronic disease.
What are signs & symptoms of lymphedema?
Severity of lymphedema ranges from mild to severe.
The lymph system is compromised, but the system is still moving fluid in the body region. There is no swelling/edema present.
Stage I :
Swelling will begin to appear. You may feel heaviness and discomfort in the affected area. When the swollen arm or leg is elevated, swelling will reduce.
Swelling is present in the affected area. Skin is thick/hard to palpation. Skin will indent with deep pressure (pitting).
Swelling in the region is extreme. Skin is red, hard to touch, and shows large wart-like bulges on the skin. Affected area is very heavy and uncomfortable to move.