Did you know that lymphoedema is a chronic swelling disease which can have numerous origins?
Lymphoedema may appear in:
- one or more limbs
- head & neck
One can be born with lymphoedema (primary lymphoedema) or it can manifest as a secondary condition from:
- surgery with axillary lymph node dissection
- wound complications or infection
- advanced cancer
- genetic predisposition (family history of chronic swelling)
- physical trauma
- chronic skin disorders and inflammation
- taxane chemotherapy
- insertion of a pacemaker
- arteriovenous shunt for dialysis
- living in or visiting a lymphatic filariasis endemic area
- varicose vein stripping
- advanced cancer
- pelvic or abdominal tumours that compress lymphatic vessels
- orthopaedic surgery
- poor nutrition
- chronic venous insufficiency
- post-thrombotic syndrome
- phlebitis, hyperthyroidism, kidney or cardiac disease
- immobilisation or prolonged limb dependency
The bad news is: As yet there is no cure for lymphoedema.
The good news is: There are good tools and management strategies for reducing lymphoedema and keeping it under control, including things you can do for yourself at home.
If you have trouble with mobility, there are aids available to make managing your lymphoedema easier.
Looking after your physical and mental health is part of a good lymphoedema management plan and a good lymphoedema therapist will help to ensure that you are supported in an appropriate way.
As with many diseases, catching lymphoedema early is the best way to avoid its progression and further complications to your health.
According to the Best Practice for the Management of Lymphoedema International Consensus document, lymphoedema progresses in five stages:
If you would like to get assessed for lymphoedema, contact your doctor or a registered lymphoedema practitioner in your area.