When patients have symptoms of lymphedema, treatment options are available to help them. This malady results because of blockages in the person’s lymphatic systems. Lymph is a yellowish fluid that looks like blood plasma. It contains white blood cells and is alkaline. This fluid is supposed to flow freely within the body as it has healing qualities to deliver. When the system is blocked, swelling and infections may occur which will in turn hinder immunity and a person’s overall wellness. This condition occurs for various reasons including an injury, the results of scarring from radiation treatments or surgical operations. Lymphedema, which mainly affects a person’s limbs, can’t be permanently cured but can be improved upon in order to enhance a sufferer’s quality of life. Common symptoms include:
- Swelling: Swollen limbs, especially arms and legs but including toes and fingers may appear.
- Infection: Recurring infection in a specific limb is a red flag of this problem.
- Thickening skin: Tissues and skin in a region becoming thicker or harder to the touch.
- Pain: Discomfort or pain may arise in the area.
- Immobility: Lack of mobility in specific limbs may happen.
- Heavy feeling: Heaviness, tightness in arms, legs, fingers or toes may present itself.
Some of the options for treatment include exercise, wearing compression garments, using a pneumatic sleeve, having a specific massaging treatment performed, and surgical intervention. The individual case will mandate which type of remedies will be most effective. The exercise routine would be best prescribed by a physical therapist, who is a medical professional who specializes in therapeutic exercise routines. The compression garments are meant as a support to the body part experiencing the drainage problems. They can be special ordered for a custom fit or bought at a medical supply store in a certain size. A pneumatic sleeve is a device that inflates and deflates in order to drain the area mechanically. The massage is done with a specific type of stroke on regions where lymph nodes are located. This stroking motion is performed to aid in the drainage of these blocked fluids. Surgical intervention involves removing problematic tissue at the site.
Why do some individuals end up with lymphedema and others do not? This is a puzzling question and has to do with a person’s healing response, genetic code and life circumstances. The inherited variety of this disease is classified as a primary version of the illness. If a person’s parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent had this problem, they are more likely to develop it, too. Patients who have had surgery, radiation or treatment to remove lymph glands or tissue nearby become more susceptible to the blocked systems, too. In certain parts of the world where infections and parasites are more prevalent, individuals may be prone to this challenge, as well.
While there is no cure for lymphedema, treatment methods for reducing discomfort can enhance a patient’s coping tools and quality of life. If a person experiences symptoms of swelling, chronic infections, thickening of skin, lack of mobility, and pain in their limbs, he or she should consult a physician for advice and treatment options.