What is Lymphoedema?
Also known lymphatic oedema, lymphoedema is a condition of local swelling due to an underlying issue with the lymphatic system. Due to this lymph issue, interstitial fluid is not returned to the bloodstream as effectively as before, and collects - usually in the lower leg or arm.
The affected area feels heavy
The skin feel tight and close to bursting
Swelling and aching
Skin feels hotter than other areas
Pins and needles
The underlying cause is blockage of the lymphatic vessels and accumulation of protein rich fluid results in swelling/ fluid retention, usually in an arm or leg.
The most common procedures leading to this blockage is lymph node removal or damage due to cancer treatment or surgery. It can also be caused by trauma and tissue damage, venous disease, and immobility.
Lymphoedema can be successfully treated using radial shockwaves, encouraging uptake of fluid into the lymph vessels. Patients usually experience relief over a period of weeks post treatment.
Sources and Related Links
The main roles of the lymphatic system include maintaining fluid levels, filtering bacteria and white blood cell storage crucial to the body’s ability to fight infection.
Secondary lymphoedema is most commonly caused by lymph node removal or damage due to cancer treatment or surgery. It can also be caused by trauma and tissue damage, venous disease, immobility and Filariasis (parasitic worms transmitted through mosquito bite).
Tissues with lymphoedema are at high risk of infection because the lymphatic system has been compromised.
Example of lymphoedema affecting the right foot. Fluid has accumulated under the skin and in the tissues, which needs to be encouraged back into the lymphatic system where it can be handled by the body.