What is Lymphedema

The Lymphatic system plays an important role in the immune response and circulation of fluid, protein and waste products from the tissue.

Lymph (water, protein, dead cells, bacteria, long-chain fats, dusts etc.) is transported through the lypmhatic vessel system to the lymph nodes where it is filtered and cleaned before returning to the blood circulatory system.

Lymphedema is a build-up of protein-rich fluid in the tissues due to a failure or impairment of the lymphatic system. It appears like a swelling of the arm or leg most often, but can involve the face, breast, trunk or genitals in specific situations. Primary lymphedema may be caused by poorly developed lymphatic system. Secondary lymphedema can develop after surgery or cancer treatments, traumatic injury or infection that damage parts of the lymph vessels or nodes. It can also be caused by venous insufficiency.

Symptoms of lymphedema include heaviness, tightness or aching of the limb followed by swelling that may dent with firm pressure to the skin. Clothing or jewelry may feel tighter.

If you are concerned that you may have lymphedema you should seek help from a professional in your area. A certefied lymphedema therapist will be able to assess your edema and offer you treatment options. You may only need a compression sleeve or stocking to support the affected tissue or you may require Complete Decongestive Therapy.

2 thoughts on “What is Lymphedema

  1. I have primary lymphedema and I find it difficult to find any doctors that actually know anything about lymphedema. I have tried MLD treatment and then a compression stocking but that did not work for me (I have too many crevices in my leg so the stockings just kept cutting off my circulation and we tried different types and none worked). Are there any doctors in the Halifax, Nova Scotia area that specialize in lymphedema?

    • Dear Karen,
      Hi Karen
      Thank you for contacting us. It sounds like you have been having quite the trouble finding the right treatment for the lymphedema in your leg. I am sorry to hear that your efforts of dealing with the condition have not payed off yet. I will forward your post to the group via email and we will contact you asap with more information.
      All the best,
      Ramona

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