Lymphedema Symptoms And Treatment

LymphademaLymphedema or lymphatic obstruction, which results in fluid retention (edema) which is localized and local tissue swelling due to obstruction of lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is responsible for returning of interstitial fluid to blood stream via thoracic duct. All vessels of lymphatic system drain into thoracic duct, which finally drain into blood stream, thus fluid is re-circulated between tissues and blood stream. When there is obstruction to this physiological lymphatic system at any point and formation of localized lymphedema, there is increased risk of infection in that area. Worldwide lymphedema affects approximately 150 million people with various degrees of symptoms.

What are the symptoms of lymphedema?

Symptoms of lymphedema are swelling of limb(s) or local area (such as neck, head etc.) due to accumulation of fluid, discoloration of skin over swelling, generalized weakness (fatigue) and eventually deformity of limbs or local area.

Treatment of lymphedema:

There are various modes of treatment of lymphedema and the mode of treatment depends on the severity (degree of edema and fibrosis of limbs) of the disease. Varios modalities of treatment of lymphedema include:

  • Compression (this may be done by using garments, sequential gradient pump, by bandaging or wrapping etc.)
  • Manual drainage of lymph known as complete decongestive therapy
  • Surgical treatment of lymphedema such as lymphatic vessel auto-grafting, transfer of normal vascularized lymph nodes, lymphatico-venous anastomosis, and lymphatic liposuction in case of advanced lymphedema etc.
  • LASER therapy, known as low-level laser therapy

Compression is a commonly used mode of treatment for lymphedema, especially at the initial stage when disease has not progressed to advanced stage. For compression various methods are used such as used of lymphedema pump (this device utilizes a multi-chambered pneumatic sleeve with overlapping cells to promote movement of lymph fluid toward thoracic duct), elastic compression garments (worn over the affected limb). Lymphedema pump is more useful than use of other compression devices (such as garment compression using elastic compression garments) and manual lymph drainage. If you plan to buy lymphedema pump, make sure to buy from reputed manufacturers such as Spectrum Healthcare Inc. Use of lymphedema pump can help soften fibrous tissue and cause better lymph drainage.

 

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lymphedema_04_Jan_2003_%289%29.jpg

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