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Lymphedema

Also called: Lymphatic obstruction

Lymphedema is the name of a type of swelling. It happens when lymph builds up in your body's soft tissues. Lymph is a fluid that contains white blood cells that defend against germs. It can build up when the lymph system is damaged or blocked. It usually happens in the arms or legs.

Causes of lymphedema include

  • Infection
  • Cancer
  • Scar tissue from radiation therapy or surgical removal of lymph nodes
  • Inherited conditions in which lymph nodes or vessels are absent or abnormal

Treatment can help control symptoms. It includes exercise, compression devices, skin care, and massage.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

Symptoms of Lymphedema

The following features are indicative of Lymphedema:
  • swelling of a part or all of the leg or arm
  • feeling of heaviness or tightness
  • restricted range of motion
  • aching or discomfort
  • recurring infections
  • hardening and thickening of the skin

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Common Causes of Lymphedema

The following are the most common causes of Lymphedema:
  • parasitic infection
  • cancer
  • scarring and inflammation from radiation therapy
  • surgical removal of lymph nodes

Risk Factors for Lymphedema

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Lymphedema:
  • older age
  • excess weight or obesity
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • psoriatic arthritis

Prevention of Lymphedema

No, it is not possible to prevent Lymphedema.
  • genetic factors

Occurrence of Lymphedema

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Lymphedema cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Lymphedema can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Lymphedema can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Lymphedema

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Lymphedema:
  • CT scan: To check the blockages in the lymphatic system
  • Doppler ultrasound: To check blood flow and pressure
  • Lymphoscintigraphy: To check the blockage in the lymph vessels

Doctor for Diagnosis of Lymphedema

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Lymphedema:
  • Surgeon

Complications of Lymphedema if untreated

Yes, Lymphedema causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Lymphedema is left untreated:
  • infections
  • lymphangiosarcoma

Procedures for Treatment of Lymphedema

The following procedures are used to treat Lymphedema:
  • Surgery: To reduce lymphedema

Self-care for Lymphedema

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Lymphedema:
  • Regular exercise: To promote the drainage of lymph fluid
  • Use compression garments: Wear stockings or long sleeves to compress your arm or leg

Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Lymphedema

The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Lymphedema:
  • Massage therapy: To enhance the flow of lymph fluid out of the arm or leg

Patient Support for Treatment of Lymphedema

The following actions may help Lymphedema patients:
  • Join support groups: Join online support groups to know about the experiences of other people with similar condition

Time for Treatment of Lymphedema

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Lymphedema to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • Disease cannot be treated but only maintained or effects reduced

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Lymphedema.

Related Topics

Edema
Lymphatic Diseases
Lymphedema - 6 learning sets

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