What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is swelling, usually in arms and/or legs, which occurs when your lymphatic system is unable to adequately drain lymph fluid.
- Swelling of arm and/or leg (including toes and fingers)
- A feeling of heaviness or tightness
- Restricted range of motion
- Aching or discomfort
- Recurring infections
- Hardening and thickening of the skin (fibrosis)
Common causes of lymphedema include:
- Surgery-lymph nodes may be removed to check for the spread of cancer and lymph nodes may be injured during surgery that involves blood vessels in limbs
- Radiation treatment-cancer radiation treatment can cause scarring and inflammation of lymph nodes and lymph vessels
- Cancer-cancer cells and/or tumors can block lymphatic vessels and damage lymph nodes
- Infection-infection in the lymph nodes and/or parasites can block lymph nodes and lymph vessels; this is most common in developing countries
There is no cure for lymphedema but it can be managed. Check back later for information on treatment options.
References: www.cancer.gov and www.mayoclinic.org