Lymphedema refers to swelling that generally occurs in one of your arms or legs. Sometimes both arms or both legs swell. There is no cure for lymphedema, however, it can be managed with early diagnosis and diligent care for the affected limb.
causes of Lymphedema
Lymphedema is most commonly caused by the removal of, or damage to, your lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment. The condition can also be inherited or be a result of cellulitis compromising the lymphatic system. It results from a blockage in your lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. The blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and the fluid buildup leads to swelling.
Lymphedema can affect men and women of all ages. The most common type of lymphedema in the United States is secondary lymphedema, which most often occurs as the result of medical treatment, generally for cancer/ radiation therapy, from surgery or trauma or cellulitis.
treatment for Lymphedema
Treatments for lymphedema vary depending on the stage and cause of the condition. Treatments are designed to reduce swelling and discomfort along with contolling other symptoms. A physical or occupational therapist, with specialized training, will assess the patient and develop an individualized treatment plan. Therapy may include:
The frequency and duration of care may range from a one-time assessment and education on lymphedema prevention, to 2-5 visits per week for 6 or more weeks, depending on the severity of lymphedema and associated impairment.
Short and long term goals to be met in 4-8 weeks may include:
Lymphedema cannot be cured. However, with proper care and treatment, the affected limb can usually be restored to a manageable size and shape. In addition, lymphedema can be managed and controlled so that it does not progress further. Successful treatment of lymphedema requires a long-term commitment from the patient.