Before taking into account the symptoms of lymphedema, it is essential to understand this health ailment that people experience. Lymphedema can be defined as the swelling of the limbs as a result of the non-functioning of the lymphatic system. A condition which is known as primary lymphedema may be inherited due to genetic factors and lineage of the individual. The other type of lymphedema is secondary lymphedema, where the patient may acquire the ailment as a result of an injury or obstruction to the smooth functioning of the lymphatic system.
Although lymphedema symptoms are seen mainly in the arms and legs, the ailment can influence any body part. The obvious sign of the disease is a swelling present in the area. The limb may feel heavy due to fluid accumulation. Lymph fluid may build up in the region of the head and neck; there may be skin discoloration or patches appearing on the affected limb. General first impression that the patient gets is a feeling of fullness in the limb. A cut or an injury to the limb treated for cancer could be a trigger for the swelling. An airplane trip may also be the first instance to prompt a lymphedema attack. Symptoms of lymphedema that you would notice are a sudden tightness in the wrist or ankles, restricting movement. Sometimes, it could be difficult to fit into your clothes or a ring or bracelet you could wear easily is suddenly becoming tight.
Many a times, lymphedema is a side-effect of breast cancer therapy. Women who undergo lumpectomy, mastectomy or the removal of lymph nodes in the armpit are prime candidates for the condition. In such cases, there is a change in the pathway of the lymph fluid, which is the reason for the condition. The symptoms may show up at any time after the operation and the condition may aggravate if not treated in time.
Recent studies state that controlled weight lifting may reduce the incidence of lymphedema for women who have had a mastectomy. Weight lifting may provide protective benefits to the affected arm by boosting the strength in that arm and improving circulation. Generally, an exercise schedule is a part of the lymphedema treatment therapy that is recommended by doctors.
Since treatment for cancer may lead to lymphedema, persons who have been treated for cancer are at a high risk for contracting the condition. Hence, such patients must be vigilant to note any symptoms of lymphedema. Treating the problem at the initial stage arrests the progress of the condition. If the symptoms are ignored, the ramifications can be severe and the damage may be irreversible. A nutritious diet with proper exercise plays an important role in maintaining the health of the lymphedema patient. A skin care routine is also essential. Lymphedema patients should protect themselves from any injury as much as possible to avoid the complications that may arise later. Even though there may not be a cure for lymphedema, it can be controlled with proper care and treatment.