Many people may be experiencing lymphedema. It can either be primary lymphedema that can be caused by genetics or another medical condition, and can appear at birth or later in life. It can be secondary lymphedema that is usually a result of cancer surgery or therapy. This type of lymphedema can occur immediately after cancer treatment, or years afterward.
Lymphedema is an accumulation of fluids that usually appears in the trunk, legs, arms, or the neck and face. It is important to identify and treat this condition early, so that it will not progress.
Symptoms can include:
- -A feeling of heaviness
- -Loss of flexibility in the affected area
- -Infections that will not heal or continue to occur in the same area
- -Skin pitting — an imprint that remains after light pressure is administered
If you are experiencing any symptoms of lymphedema, it is extremely important that you contact your physician. After determining if you are experiencing this condition, there are several different treatments that may alleviate the symptoms. Do keep in mind that these treatments can help manage lymphedema, but there is no cure for the condition. Treatments can include:
- -Compression Garments/Bandages – Garments which compress the area can be worn either during the day or night to reduce swelling.
- –Skin Care — Because the skin is affected, proper skin care can prevent the break down of skin and prevent infections.
- –Diet — Maintaining a healthy diet and proper hydration can help reduce the symptoms.
- –Exercise – Undergoing special exercises can help reduce the swelling
- –Manual Drainage/Massage – Specific massage therapies can assist the fluid buildup through manipulating the area to allow for better drainage and fluid movement.
Other lymphedema management treatments and procedures include:
- –Avoid extreme temperatures — Extreme temperatures can interrupt the fluid flow and can increase swelling and/or pain.
- –Avoid repetitive activities and strenuous exercise — Using the affect limb in a strenuous or repetitive manner can again interrupt the lymphatic fluid flow and cause a build up.
- –Avoid wearing tight clothing and accessories (rings, watches, and so on) — Tight clothing can restrict the affected area and cause fluid build up. Tight jewelry can also have the same affect.
- –Protect the area from possible injury — Avoid activities that many can scrapes, burns or cuts to avoid the possibility of infection.
Should you need diagnosis of possible lymphedema, contact a qualified doctor as soon as possible. The medical professionals at the Skin and Vein Center are highly knowledgeable about the symptoms and treatments of lymphedema and can help tailor a treatment plan.