Lymphedema is a combination of fluid that causes swelling (edema) in the areas of the body. It typically happens in the arms or legs. Sometimes it can happen both arms and legs concurrently.
Lymphedema is usually caused by the elimination of or damage to your lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment. It results from a .a blockage in your lymphatic system, which is a component of the immune system. The blockage prevents. Lymph fluid from draining well. And the fluid buildup leads to swelling.
There is no cure for lymphedema. But it can be more effectively treated with early diagnosis and diligent care of your injured limb.
Symptoms of Lymphedema
Lymphedema signs and symptoms, which is typically arm or leg, include:
- Swelling of part or all of your arm or leg, including fingers or toes.
- A feeling of heaviness or tightness
- Restricted range of motion
- Aching or discomfort
- Recurring infections
- Hardening and thickening of the skin
The swelling produced by lymphedema fluctuates from mild, hardly detectable changes in the size of your arm or leg to drastic changes that make the limb hard to use. Lumhedmai caused by cancer treatment may occur until months or years after treatments.
When should you see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you observe persistent swelling in your arm or leg.
Your lymphatic system is essential to keeping your body healthy. It circulates protein-rich lymph fluid throughout your body collecting bacteria, waste products, and viruses. Your lymphatic system comes this fluid and harmful substances through your lymph vessels, with lead to lymph nodes. The wastes are then filtered out by lymphocytes – infection-fighting cells that live in your lymph nodes – and eventually flushed from your body.
Lymphedema occurs when your lymph vessels are unable to adequately drain lymph fluid, usually from an arm or leg. Lymphedema can be either principal or secondary. This means it can occur on its primary lymphedema) or it can be affected by another disease or condition (secondary lymphedema). Secondary lymphedema is far more prevalent than primary lymphedema.
Causes of secondary lymphedema
Any ailment or procedure that destroys your lymph nodes or lymph vessels can cause lymphedema. Causes include:
Surgery – removal of or injury lymph nodes and lymph vessels may result in lymphedema. For example, lymph nodes may be removed to check for spread of breast cancer, and lymph nodes may be injured in surgy that involves blood vessels in your limbs.
Radiation treatment for cancer. Radiation can generate scarring and inflammation of your lymph nodes or lymph vessels.
Cancer – If cancer cells block lymphatic vessels lymphedema may result. For example, a tumor growing near a lymph node or lymph vessel could enlarge enough to prevent the flow of the lymph fluid.
Infection, An infection of the lymph nodes or parasitic, can restrict the flow of lymph fluid infection related lymphedema is most common in the tropical and subtropical region and is more likely to occur in developing countries.
Causes of primary lymphedema
Primary lymphedema is a rare, genetic condition prompted by issues with the formation of the lymph vessels in your body. Specific causes of primary lymphedema include:
Milroy’s disease (congenital lymphedema). This disease begins in infancy and causes lymph nodes to form abnormally.
Meigs’ disease (lymphedema praecox). This disorder often causes lymphedema around puberty r during pregnancy though it can occur later, until age 35.
Late -onset lymphedema (lymphedema trade). This rarely happens and usually begins to begin after age 35.
Factors that may increase your risk of developing lymphedema after cancer, cancer treatment or other secondary causes inlcude>
Excess weight or obesity
Psoriatic arthritis or Rheumatoid
Lymphedema in your arm or leg can lead to severe complications, such as :
Lymphangiosarcoma. This is a rare form of soft tissue cancer can result from the most-severe cases of untreated lymphedema Possible signs of lymphangiosarcoma include blue -red or purple marks n the skin.
Infections. Possible infections that may lead from lymphedema include a dangerous bacterial infection of the skin (cellulitis) and an infection of the lymph vessels (lymphangitis) The smallest injury to your arm or leg can be an entry point for infection.
Test and Diagnosis for Lymphedema
If you are at risk of lymphedema – for instance. If you have recently had cancer surgery involving your lymph nodes our doctor may diagnose lymphedema based on your signs and symptoms.
If the cause of your lymphedema is not as clear, your doctor may order an imaging test to get a look at your lymph system. The test may include:
MRI scan. Using a magnetic field and radio waves, an MRI produces 3-D, high-resolution images.
CT scan. This X-ray technique produces detailed, cross sectional images of your body’s structures, CT scans can reveal blockages in the lymphatic system.
Doppler ultrasound. This version of the traditional ultrasound looks at blood flow and force by bouncing high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) off red blood cells.Ultrasound can assist in finding obstructions.
Radionuclide imaging of your lymphatic system (lymphoscintigraphy) During this test you are given a shot of radioactive dye and then scanned by a machine. The produced pictures show the dye moving through your lymph vessels highlighting blockages.
Treatments and Drugs of Lymphedema
There’s no cure for lymphedema. Treatment concentrates on reducing the swelling and controlling the pain. Lymphedema treatments include:
Exercises – light exercises in which you move your affected limb may encourage him fluid drainage and assist in preparing you for everyday tasks such as carrying groceries. Exercise should not be strenuous or tire you but should focus on the gentile contraction of the muscles in your arm or leg. A certified lymphedema therapist can instruct you on exercises that may help.
Wrapping your arm or Leg – warping your entire limb promotes lymph fluid movement back toward the trunk of your body. The bandage should be tightest around your finger or toes and loosen as it moves up your arm of leg. A lymphedema therapist can teach you how to wrap your leg and arm.
Massage – A special massage technique called manual lymph drainage may encourage the flow of lymph fluid out of your arm or leg. And various massage treatment may benefit people with active cancer. Be sure to work with someone specially trained in these techniques.
Massage is not for everyone. Avoid messages if you have a skin infection or blood clots.
Pneumatic compression. A sleeve is worn over the affected arm or leg attached to a pump that intermittently inflates the sleeve, putting force on your limb and moving lymph fluid away from your fingers or toes. Compression garments. Long sleeve or stocking make to compress your arm or leg encourage the flow of the lymph fluid out of your affected limb, War a compression garment when exercising the affected limb.
Obtain a suitable fit for your compression garment by getting professional help. Ask your doctor where you can buy compression clothing. Some people will require custom-made compression garments.
Complete decongestive therapy (CDT) This approach requires combining therapies with lifestyle changes. Cdt is not recommended for people who have high blood pressure diabetes, heart failure, paralysis, acute infections or blood clusters.
In situations of severe lymphedema, the doctor may consider surgery to remove excess tissue in your arm or leg to reduce swelling.
If you’ve had or will have cancer surgery, ask your doctor whether your procedure will include your lymph nodes or lymph vessels, Ask if your radiation treatment will be directed at lymph nodes, so your radiation treatment will be aimed at lymph nodes so that you will be aware of the possible risk
To reduce your risk of lymphedema you should:
Protect your arm or your legs. Try to stay away from activities that can cause injury to your affected limb, burns, cuts or scraps can become infection sites. Guard yourself against sharp objects. An example would be to shave with an electric razor wear gloves when you garden or cook. Use a thimble when you sew. If feasible, avoid medical procedures, such as blood draws and injections in your affected limb. Rest your arm or leg while recovering. Following cancer treatment, stretching and exercise are prescribed. You should, however, avoid strenuous activity until you have recovered from surgery or radiation.
Avoid heat on your arm or leg. Do not apply heat or ice, such as with a heating paid to your affected limb. Also, protect your affected limb from intense cold weather
Elevate your arm or leg. When ever you can elevate your affected limb above and level of your heart.
Avoid tight clothing. Avoid everything that you could contact our arm or leg, such as tight-fitting clothing and in the case of your arm, blood pressure cuffs. Ask that your blood pressure is taken in your other arm. Keep your arm or leg clean. Make skin and nail high care priorities. Examine the skin on your arm or leg daily, watching for changes or breaks in your skin that could lead to infection do not walk around barefoot.