Lymphedema is a condition in which lymph fluid builds up in the body causing swelling of the legs, arms or trunk. These symptoms are often temporary and may appear unexpectedly and then disappear without much treatment only to return at a later date. Chronic lymphedema can develop as the swelling comes and goes more frequently and once it has become chronic the condition is no longer reversible, only somewhat manageable.
If you’re noticing symptoms such as:
-Heaviness in an arm or leg
-A loss of flexibility in ankles, wrists or hands
-Swelling of the legs, arms or trunk
-Tightness developing around the wrist or fingers where watches, bracelets and rings are worn
-A tight feeling in the skin
-Infections that won’t leave
In addition to seeking medical expertise to treat your lymphedema, there are some effective treatments that patients can take on themselves to help reduce swelling and prevent chronic lymphedema from developing. Some of these treatments include:
-Regular exercise to keep swelling to a minimum. Work with a therapist if needed but aim for daily exercise.
-Make use of compression garments that reduce swelling. Both day and night compression garments are available and the best options can be recommended by your doctor.
– Maintaining a diet with plenty of healthy, balanced foods and lots of hydration will reduce lymphedema symptoms.
-Skin care in general is important so keeping the skin moisturized and protected will help prevent infections that are often associated with lymphedema.
To minimize the risks of developing lymphedema, especially chronic lymphedema, patients should discuss their concerns with a physician who specializes in treating patients with lymphedema. Patients should continually watch for swelling in areas of the body most affected by lymphedema. If you have lymphedema or symptoms of lymphedema, it is also important to avoid infections by keeping the skin healthy and by using dense moisturizing creams after showering or bathing. Avoid lifting heavy objects that put too much pressure on a limb that is affected by lymphedema and avoid having blood drawn from, or blood pressure taken from, an affected arm.
If you’re concerned that you may be experiencing symptoms of lymphedema or headed toward developing chronic lymphedema because of recurring swelling of your limbs or trunk and the discomfort associated with lymphedema, we invite you to come in to our office at the Laser, Lipo and Vein Center to discuss your symptoms and treatment options.