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Lymphedema is a buildup of protein-rich fluid that accumulates in an area of the body. It is caused by abnormalities in the lymphatic system, one main cause being cancer and its treatment. Lymphedema can occur in the:
The lymphatic system is made up of lymph vessels and lymph nodes along the blood vessels that work to maintain fluid balance in the body. Lymphedema is what occurs when this system is overloaded from overuse, damage or other body systems putting out too much fluid. It can occur at any age. There are variable causes including congenital abnormalities, surgery, radiation/cancer treatments, tumors and other blockages of the lymph nodes. Lymphedema symptoms can be variable and may start with a feeling of heaviness in the limb. People most often begin to notice swelling in the limb and may experience changes in soft tissue such as a feeling of “hardening” or fibrosis. Lymphedema can be treated with complete decongestive therapy provided by our certified lymphedema therapists. Complete decongestive therapy includes:
Lymphedema is chronic and incurable, but prompt treatment can improve prognosis and delay its progression. With proper care, lymphedema can be managed and long-term secondary effects, including infection and skin changes, can be decreased. If you suspect you have lymphedema, speak with your physician regarding your condition so you can be properly diagnosed. Speak with your doctor about a consult/referral to our program.