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Lymphedema

 

Lymphedema is a condition causing swelling in the body, usually in the arms and legs, due to fluid retention.

Causes

  • Blocked lymph system
  • Damaged lymph system
  • Cancer that blocks lymphatic vessels
  • Cancer treatment (lymph node removal, radiation, etc.)
  • Infections like filariasis
  • Congenital defects in the lymph nodes or channels

Symptoms

  • Swelling and heaviness in affected area
  • Feeling of tightness
  • Restricted motion
  • Burning sensation
  • Itching
  • Discoloration of the skin

Treatment
Lymphedema can not be cured but swelling can be reduced by:

  • Compression garments or bandaging to compress the affected areas to help in lymph drainage
  • Manual lymph drainage through special massage
  • Physiotherapy including light exercises to help drain the fluid
  • Skin care to keep the skin moisturized and clean to avoid cuts and infections
  • Rarely surgery to reduce the excess tissue

Prevention
If risk for lymphedema exists due to surgery, cancer treatment etc, prevention may include:

  • Avoiding injury to limbs
  • Avoiding excessive heat
  • Avoiding crossing legs while sitting
  • Avoiding needle pricks or injections on the Lymphedema prone limb
  • Avoiding blood pressure readings on the prone arm
  • Taking good care of the skin