Treatment of Lymphedema

Treatment of Lymphedema: Lymphedema is a long-term condition where excess fluid collects in tissues causing swelling (edema).

The lymphatic system is a part of the immune system and vital for immune function. Fluid called lymph circulates within the lymphatic system.

Lymphedema commonly affects one of the arms or legs. Usually, in some cases, both arms and both legs may be affected. Some patients might experience swelling in the head, genitals, or chest.

There are two main types of lymphedema:

Primary lymphedema – often called congenital lymphedema. The lymphedema is evident at birth or shortly after puberty.

Secondary lymphedema – this occurs as a result of something else, such as an infection, injury, trauma, or cancer that affects the lymphatic system.

Symptoms of Treatment of Lymphedema

Lymphedema affects the lymphatic system. This system has three main functions:

  • Draining excess tissue fluid: It balances the fluid in the blood and the fluid in the tissues. This is fluid homeostasis.
  • Fighting infection: It provides immunity by assisting the body’s immune defense against foreign bodies, such as bacteria.
  • Absorbing fats: It absorbs lipid nutrients from the intestine and transports them to the blood.

Some of the causes of lymphedema

  • Late-onset lymphedema affects people older than 35 years.
  • Secondary lymphedema, most common can be by the blockage of lymphatic system, due to Cancer or tumor, either growing in or near the lymph nodes.
  •  Age – advance age increases risk
  •  Obesity or over weight
  • Cancer treatment, including radiation treatment.
  • Removal of lymph nodes as in case of cancer biopsies

Damage to lymph nodes, for example, surgery of blood vessels.

Treatment for lymphedema

Massage of the limbs  is one of the first steps in lymphedema physical therapy. Daily practice of a method of sequential massage (complex decongestive therapy (CDT)) is often prescribed. A Physiotherapist performs the routine in the early stages, with the goal of decreasing swelling in the affected limb.

If you engage in light exercise that moves the arm or leg affected by lymphedema, it may aid the flow of lymph fluid. It is essential that you engage in light exercise only. Strenuous exercise will only make the affected limb tired. Physiotherapist will help you learn exercises that can gently contract the muscles, thereby pushing the lymph fluid out of the area.

The process works by focusing pressure on the limb, which moves blocked lymph fluid through the body. Once the limb is down to normal size, the patient continues will subsequently continue the exercises with the help of family and friends on daily routine in order to prevent future swelling.

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