Lymphedema, also spelled lymphoedema. Lymphedema is the chronic swelling or feeling of tightness in the arm or hand due to an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the soft tissue of the arm. The condition arises when lymph vessels, which normally carry excess fluid out of the limbs and back into central circulation, have had their flow interrupted. Lymphedema is a common complication of cancer and cancer treatment and can result in long-term physical, psychological, and social issues for patients. Lymphedema may be inherited (primary) or caused by injury to the lymphatic vessels (secondary).
Lymphedema is most often seen after lymph node dissection, surgery and/or radiation therapy, in which harm to the lymphatic system is caused during the treatment of cancer, most eminently breast cancer. Lymphedema may also be associated with accidents or certain diseases or problems that may inhibit the lymphatic system from functioning properly. In tropical areas of the world, a common cause of secondary lymphedema is filariasis, a parasitic infection. It can also be caused by a compromising of the lymphatic system resulting from cellulitis. Lymphedema can develop in any part of the body or limb.
Signs or symptoms of lymphedema to watch out for comprise: a full sensation in the limb, skin feeling tight, decreased flexibility in the hand, wrist or ankle, difficulty fitting into clothing in one specific area, or ring/wristwatch/bracelet tightness. Lymphedema is aggravated by prolonged standing, pregnancy, obesity, hot weather, and the menstrual period. Treatment for lymphedema varies depending on the severity of the edema and the degree of fibrosis of the affected limb. The most important aspect of treatment is learning how to care for your health.
The most common treatments for lymphedema are a combination of complete decongestive therapy, compression bandaging, and the employ of solidity garments. Lymphedema is also treated by physical ways and with medication. Physical methods include supporting the arm or leg in a raised position, manual lymphatic drainage, wearing bandages or custom-fitted clothing. Prevention is better than cure. Maintain your ideal body weight. Eat foods high in fiber such as whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients you require.