If you are experiencing leg pain along with unexplained swelling in the legs, feet, and toes, you may have Lymphedema. In severe cases, lymphedema can hinder mobility and lead to an increased risk of skin infection. But what is lymphedema, exactly? How can you identify its symptoms, who is at risk, and how can you reduce your risk?
Lymphedema is a condition in which the tissue in your arms and legs swells or hardens. This often causes chronic leg pain and makes it difficult to move around.
Lymphedema is caused by a buildup of lymph fluids in the cells of the arms and legs. In a healthy immune system, lymph fluids are transported throughout the body, carrying white blood cells and filtering out harmful materials. But when affected by lymphedema, the transportation of lymph fluids is disrupted, preventing proper drainage of lymph fluids. This affects the immune system by reducing the efficiency of white blood cell transportation.
The buildup of fluid is also what causes exterior swelling and pain in the arms and legs. Those suffering from lymphedema can be more susceptible to injuries, burns, and infections.
Most of the population is not at high risk of lymphedema. This is because the primary lymphedema causes are certain cancer treatments that may damage the lymph nodes. As a result, cancer patients are often at the highest risk of developing lymphedema.
Lymphedema symptoms do not always set in right away after cancer treatment and can develop at any time. So if you begin to experience lymphedema symptoms years after receiving cancer treatment, you may want to see a doctor. In addition to cancer treatment, some other surgical procedures can cause damage to the lymphatic system resulting in lymphedema.
Other risk factors associated with lymphedema are old age, obesity, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for lymphedema. However, lymphedema treatment is possible. It is easier to manage symptoms if it is diagnosed early, so it is recommended that you consult a doctor immediately upon experiencing symptoms.
There are several things you can do to lessen the symptoms and pain caused by lymphedema. Avoiding constructive clothing is generally recommended for those with lymphedema. This reduces the pain caused by swelling in the legs and arms. It can also reduce the risk of inflammation and skin infections.
People with lymphedema are also advised to take extra precautions against injuries, burns, and infections.
More advanced lymphedema treatment options to manage symptoms and side effects. For instance, your doctor may prescribe medications or ointments to reduce the risk of infection. Some light exercises can help contract leg muscles, which promotes greater fluid movement throughout the body. Additionally, compression bandages and garments can also encourage fluid drainage.
In some circumstances, doctors can also perform manual lymph fluid drainage to relieve swollen limbs. This technique should not be used if you are suffering from any additional skin infections or injuries, as it can worsen some symptoms.
Lymphedema is a fairly unique medical condition. Your general practitioner may be able to offer some help and guidance for managing symptoms. But for more advanced specialized lymphedema treatment, vascular and vein health specialists can be of greater help. Vascular health specialists have experience treating all kinds of vascular ailments, including lymphedema.
If you are experiencing lymphedema symptoms, contact South Valley Vascular for a consultation. We can help you with a diagnosis and provide expert care for lymphedema or any other vein insufficiency you may be suffering from. Read about our treatment options to learn more about how South Valley Vascular can treat you.