What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema occurs when lymphatic fluid accumulates in the soft tissue of the body, such as the extremities. Lymphedema consists of two different types, primary and secondary, and three different stages: mild, moderate, and severe. While the initial symptoms of primary and secondary lymphedema are completely different, treatments for both types are relatively the same. Treatments for this disease include Manual Lymphedema Drainage and professional treatment. Receiving treatment for this disease is very important because infection may set in without proper handling. The later the stage the lymphedema is at, the greater the chance that infection will occur, and the harder it will be to manage the pain/symptoms. Along with medical treatment, a patient must make a few lifestyle changes when dealing with this disease. While always trying to prevent infection, it is important for the patient to obtain adequate exercise. While there is no cure for lymphedema, proper maintenance care, such as Manual Lymphedema Drainage, compression bandages and compression garments, will keep the disease manageable and under control.
When lymphatic fluid collects in the affected limb, it can reduce oxygen availability in the transport system, interfere with wound healing, and it can provide a culture medium for bacteria. Lymphedema mainly occurs in the extremities due to the location of the lymph nodes, which are located right under the skin near the neck, armpits, and groin. The damage or deformation of these lymph nodes can lead to lymphedema in the surrounding areas, such as the arms and legs.
(Above is a diagram showing the location of the lymph nodes and lymph vessels within the body.)
As stated before, the damage or deformation of the lymph nodes can lead to lymphedema in the surrounding areas, such as the arms and legs. The highlighted red lymph nodes, for example, mostly lead to lymphedema in the left arm, as the damages lymph nodes are on the upper left part of the body.