Lymphedema Symptoms, Treatment, & Causes

Not all vein diseases are visible to the naked eye like spider veins and varicose veins; some are hidden below the surface and make themselves known in other ways. Lymphedema, for example, can present itself as swollen and painful areas on the legs and arms (although it can appear in other parts of the body) and is a result of a blockage in the lymphatic system. Early detection and treatment can prevent more serious issues developing later.

Lymphedema Symptoms

In addition to swelling of the legs and arms, the affected areas may also feel heavy or tired, may feel tight and difficult to bend, and may appear red and hot. The swelling generally does not affect limbs equally, so the swelling will be more pronounced in one leg or one arm than it does on the other. Diagnosis by a licensed physician is important, so if you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment today.

Types of Lymphedema

There are two main types of this disease, primary lymphedema and secondary lymphedema. The secondary type is the more common form and generally appears on patients who have recently had cancer treatments. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy can all cause damage to the lymphatic system. Infection and trauma can also cause secondary lymphedema. Primary lymphedema is an inherited condition and presents its self in three subcategories: congenital lymphedema, with symptoms appearing in the very young, lymphedema praecox, appearing in adolescence, and lymphedema tarda, which as you may gather, shows up at a later stage in the patient’s life.

Lymphedema Treatment Options

While there are no cures, there are a variety of Lymphedema treatment options available today. The disease can now be managed to ensure quality of life by combining different treatments as shown in the list below. The first step, as always, is diagnosis by a licensed physician. Once you’ve been diagnosed, the following Lymphedema treatment options may be prescribed.

  • Compression stockings or sleeves
  • Lymphatic massage
  • Combined or complete decongestive therapy
  • Exercise
  • Diaphragmatic breathing exercises
  • Intermittent compression therapy

Proper Care

To prevent reoccurrences, proper care and prevention must be maintained. Exercise regularly, don’t cross your arms or legs, dry off completely after swimming or bathing, wear protective clothing and shoes to avoid reinjuring the area, and keep the affected areas clean. Maintaining a good quality of life is possible with this disease, even if there is no cure.

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