What do you need to know


Lymphoedema is a long term, chronic swelling of an area of the body due to a compromised lymphatic system: i.e. obstruction, damage, genetic malformation or removal of lymph nodes.

Lymphoedema is also called "Low Flow/High Protein Oedema" because of the accumulation of proteins in the tissue. Blood proteins such as albumin and globulin help maintain fluid balance in the body by attracting the fluid back into the veins from the tissue. With too much proteins in the tissue and not enough of them in the veins this balance is disrupted and swelling occurs.

Lymphoedema is usually accompanied by feelings of heaviness, aching, weakness in the area and decrease in range of movement. It can have a significant impact on someone's quality of life and personal ability to care about themselves, the family and work.

There is no cure for Lymphoedema but it can be controlled with good management.


Major causes of secondary lymphoedema

Surgery and/or radiation treatment of the lymphatic nodes associated with cancer  management. Mastectomy or lumpectomy are the most common cause for lymphoedema in our Western society. Lymphoedema may also occur in the lower limbs or groin after surgery for colon, hysterectomy with removal of lymph nodes.

Vascular abnormality and use of medication in particular those associated with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or breast cancer

Filariasis is the most prevalent kind of Lymphoedema in tropical regions such as India, Africa Southeast Asia. It affects women more than men and results from the exposure to multiple bites from infected mosquitoes.

Obesity can inhibit the venous blood return from the lower extremities and increase the risk of venous disorders. With more tissue to drain, obesity may also be a predisposing factor for lymphoedema. The increase in weight and body size  does not increase the number of lymph capillaries and vessels.


Lymphoedema treatment
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