Lymphedema is an accumulation of fluid, most often noticed in swelling in the arms and legs. It is caused by some disturbance in the lymph vessels or nodes. For example, they may be missing or damaged.
Primary lymphedema doesn’t happen very often and is a birth defect wherein certain lymph vessels are missing or malformed at birth. Secondary lymphedema is caused by something that brings about a blockage or interruption in the flow of lymph through the system. It can come about because of an infection, surgery, trauma, radiation, scar tissue, cancer, or a blood clot in a vein.
Anyone who has had one of these procedures could be at risk for lymphedema:
- Radiation therapy to a lymph node
- Mastectomy and lymph node removal
- Lumpectomy and lymph node removal
- Modified radical mastectomy with lymph node removal
- Cancer surgery and/or radiation therapy to a part of the body that contains lymph nodes
Timing is unpredictable. It can come on days, months, or years after the causative event. Breast surgery obviously brings about changes in the drainage pathways for fluids that are a part of the immune system. Physicians are aware of the possibility of lymphedema developing after a surgery and will be on the lookout for it.
Some symptoms you might want to be aware of:
- Jewelry that suddenly is tight on your finger or arm.
- Diminished flexibility of your hand, wrist, or ankle.
- Your clothing is suddenly tight in only one place.
- Skin feels tight.
- Legs and/or arms feel heavy.
Diagnosis will come after your physician has carefully evaluated your medical history. He/she will particularly be interested in surgeries and treatments as well as any medications you’re taking. Your doctor will quiz you about symptoms and will conduct a complete physical. More tests may be needed.
Treatment varies. The stage of the illness will be a factor as will the cause. In any case, the patient must learn to manage the case. Your health professionals will teach you and others close to you how to carry out the treatment.
If there is an infection, you will get antibiotics. However, bandaging, skin care, diet, compression clothing, exercise, draining of the lymphs, massage and lymphedema pumps are typical of prescribed treatments.
Many products to help in the care of lymphedema are available at Vitality Medical. For example, a range of compression support gauntlets are available including both mens stockings and womens stockings. Anti-embolism stockings may also be prescribed, and Vitality Medical has them. The advantages you will enjoy by buying from Vitality Medical are convenience and cost. You won’t have to leave the privacy of your home to order. Vitality Medical offers discount medical supplies to hospitals, care facilities and home care.