Lymphedema is the accumulation of fluid rich in proteins in the tissues. The weakened function of lymph vessels mainly hampers the drainage of lymphatic system. Lymphedema mainly impacts the arm, hand, fingers, breast and the chest wall. This may also happen as a result of damage to the lymphatic system due to surgery or radiotherapy.
Infection or injury occurring to the ‘arm at risk’ may also raise the chances of appearance of this condition in some cases this condition may occur due to cancer cells blocking the lymphatic system.
Signs And Symptoms
- Chronic swelling
- Pain in the local regions
- Skin changes
- Bacterial infections
- Swelling of the arm or chest area just after surgery of the breast
- Swelling in the hand, fingers, arm, breast or chest on that side of the body where there has been a surgery or radiotherapy
Diagnosis And Treatment
Lymphedema is diagnosed clinically by complete assessment of the body through physical examination. Treatments that help in controlling lymphedema include skin care, exercises involving shoulder, hand and arm and sports activities, maintaining a healthy body weight, using compression garments and bandages, manual lymphatic drainage, simple lymphatic drainage, and Kinesio taping method.
Other treatments are also available such as surgery, lymph node transfer, liposuction, compression pumps and low-level laser therapy.