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Information About Lymphedema

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Lymphedema occurs when Lymphatic Fluid builds up in the soft tissues of your body, usually in an arm or a leg. The Lymphatic System is made up of lymph vessels and lymph nodes located in various areas of the body. Lymph vessels collect and transport fluid made up of protein, water, fats, and cell waste to the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes filter the waste and return the fluid to the blood. Lymphedema is the result of damaged or missing lymph nodes restricting lymph fluid movement through the lymphatic system. The result of Lymphedema is lymphatic fluid build up or in other words swelling in the affected areas of the body. Consider the two types of Lymphedema:

  • Inherited Lymphedema or Primary Lymphedema – born lacking Lymph Vessels. (A rare form of Primary Lymphedema develops in infancy and is called Milroy’s Disease.)
  • Acquired Lymphedema or Secondary Lymphedema – an injury to your lymphatic system causes Lymphedema. (Most common Lymphedema Type)
  • Chronic LymphedemaLymphedema that can last for the remainder of your life.

As a result of Lymphedema, Swollen Limbs become vulnerable to infection. Cuts, scratches, insect bites, and/or athlete’s foot can cause a severe infection. The severe infection is referred to as Lymphangitis by physicians. Lymphangitis damages the connective tissue under your skin as a result of excessive and prolonged swelling and infection. Lymphangitis can cause scarring that makes the tissue vulnerable to more swelling and infection and eventually leads to tissue hardening. Consider the following list of possible Lymphedema Symptoms:

  • Aching limbs
  • Weak limbs
  • Redness in a limb
  • Heaviness in a limb
  • Tightness in a limb
  • Less flexibility in limb joints
  • Tight-fitting rings
  • Tight-fitting shoes

The most common causes of Secondary Lymphedema included the following:

  • Cancer surgery
  • Cancer radiation treatments
  • Blood vessel surgery
  • Liposuction
  • Burns
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