Lymphedema: A Malfunction of the Lymphatic System
Lymphedema can be an inherited disease (primary) or it can develop after surgery, radiation or trauma (secondary) where the lymph nodes of the armpit or groin have been affected. Most lymphedema occurs in the arms or legs, although it is fairly common in the chest, breast and genitalia.
Lymphedema is swelling due to a blockage of the lymph passages that drain fluid from the tissues throughout the body and we treat it successfully at Encompass HealthCare & Wound Medicine.
The most noticeable symptoms of lymphedema is swelling in your limbs that makes your arms or legs feel heavy, thick or tight. This usually begins in the foot/ankle or forearm/hand areas, but it can begin in the thigh or upper arm.
Lymphedema Long-term Effects
As episodes of lymphedema recur, the buildup of waste products and proteins cause the tissues to become hard and thick, a condition called fibrosis. Long-term effects of lymphedema include damage to lymphatic vessels and nodes, as well as a decrease in the oxygen and nutrient supply to the cells.
Lymphedema treatment includes:
Decompression (usually with multilayered bandages)
Manual lymph drainage (MLD)
Pneumatic compression pump
Decompression therapy is gentle yet firm pressure that can bring down swelling and enhance blood flow. Manual lymph drainage (MLD) is a light massage therapy technique in which the skin is moved in certain directions based on the structure of the lymphatic system. This helps the lymph fluid drain through the proper channels. Wearing compression stockings on the affected area or using a pneumatic compression pump on and off may be helpful. Unna Boots can help and finally, venous ablation is a virtually painless, permanent, in-office procedure that shuts down faulty veins.