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What is Lymphedema: Symptoms and Treatment Options

Posted on February 27, 2024

What is lymphedema? This is a condition characterized by chronic swelling. But the swelling isn't caused by built up water or blood. Rather, the swelling of lymphedema results from trapped lymph fluid in your skin's soft tissue.

Once fluid is trapped, the swelling lasts, and may become painful. And, if you touch an area of swollen skin, your finger imprint will leave a lasting mark. But where does the lymph fluid come from, why does it build up and what can you do for lymphedema? Here's what you need to know!

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Where does lymph fluid come from?

Lymph fluid is part of the lymphatic system circulating through your body. It's packed with fat and protein to help white blood cells fight infections. Now, if the flow of lymph fluid is blocked, it can build up in the soft tissue, causing the swelling we discussed above. But that's not all. With lymphedema, your immunity can mobility could both be compromised as well. Obviously, then, this is a condition we hope to prevent. And, to do that, we need to provide a better understanding of why lymphatic fluid might get trapped in certain areas of your body.

What is lymphedema caused by?

Your lymphedema could be the result of:

1.       A family history of lymph fluid buildup. Your genetics or family history

2.       Advanced vein disease

3.       Heart disease or failure

4.       Physical trauma

5.       Cancer treatment, especially for women who've survived breast uterine, ovarian or colon cancer, according to this study.

Lymphedema symptoms include swelling in an entire limb, or a portion of the arm, leg, fingers or toes. Affected limbs may feel tight, achy or heavy. Your skin could become harder and thicker, and infections could become a recurring problem. Importantly, lymphedema is a progressive condition, so seeking early intervention is the best way to prevent debilitation.

Treating chronic swelling in Georgia

If we catch lymphedema early enough, compression therapy can help drain some built-up lymphatic fluid. Some patients may benefit from light therapy, surgery or even liposuction.

Another option is to get a special compression pump that helps circulate the excess fluid. Some patients may see results from gentle exercise such as biking or even sipping on green tea. However, the best way to treat lymphedema is to prevent it. And one of the best ways to do that is by treating your vein disease, so it doesn't progress and cause complications.

Ready to manage your chronic swelling and preserve or regain mobility? Reach out to our team today and request an appointment[/ga-app-link]!

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