Treatment for Lymphedema: What Are the Options?

Blog Post
By South Valley Vascular
July 11, 2022

A person’s overall health and immune system depend largely on their lymph system. The lymph system contains vessels and nodes that carry lymph fluid to and from the heart. One of its most important functions is filtering waste and bacteria to help combat viruses and infections. Lymphedema can occur when a blockage in the lymph system is present and prevents it from working properly. 

Lymphedema often occurs when people have cancer, are receiving cancer treatments, or had cancer surgery. The reason is that lymph nodes sometimes need to be removed during these processes. While there is no cure for lymphedema, treatment options are available. Here are some of the lymphedema symptoms, treatments, and how to cope with it.

What Are The Lymphedema Symptoms?

One of the most common lymphedema symptoms is swelling or pain in the legs. It’s common for people to feel swelling in their toes and it can extend to both legs. People might feel restricted in their movements and experience tightness in their legs. Aching or general leg pain are also symptoms of lymphedema.

Other symptoms of lymphedema can include recurring infections, wounds healing more slowly than usual, and fibrosis. While some people only experience mild symptoms, others could have severe symptoms. And for people who develop lymphedema due to cancer treatments, symptoms can arrive years following the treatments.

Is There a Treatment for Lymphedema?

The pain level for lymphedema can range from minimal to extreme. And since there’s no way to cure the condition at this time, treating it involves managing the pain. Your doctor could prescribe medication as a treatment for lymphedema. Most of the time this should be taken only when infections or other symptoms occur.

Typically, the most effective treatment for lymphedema involves different types of therapy. Various exercises as suggested by your doctor can help release the fluid causing the swelling in your legs. In some cases, manual treatments are required to drain the excess fluid. A therapist can massage the fluid where it needs to go, but this technique should be avoided at home.

Your doctor could also suggest using compression garments or bandages to promote drainage of lymph fluid. In severe cases, surgery could be required. Surgical procedures might include a lymph node transplant, creating new drainage paths, or soft tissue removal.

Coping With Lymphedema

While the above treatments can help manage pain associated with lymphedema, most people have to learn to live with it. Coping with lymphedema can involve both mental and physical exercises. Consider reaching out to other people with the condition and discussing tips on how to manage discomfort. Sometimes talking to other people in similar situations can help you deal with the condition mentally.

From a physical standpoint, focus on caring for the areas causing you the most problems. It’s also important to prioritize your overall health by exercising, eating a balanced diet, and reducing stress. The more you take care of your body, the better you’ll feel physically and mentally. And when this happens, you could experience more energy and a better mindset to promote healing.

At South Valley Vascular, our experts can help you treat and manage discomfort associated with lymphedema. We understand it can be frustrating to know your condition is not curable. We will go above and beyond to find a treatment plan so you can manage pain and live life normally. 

You deserve to live a pain-free life and our experts will help you achieve it as safely as possible. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns about your symptoms.