Lymphedema is defined as the swelling to one or more extremities caused by lymph (a fluid that circulates throughout the lymphatic system) accumulating in the tissues of the affected areas. This results in impaired flow of the lymphatic system. This often affects an arm or a leg, however rarely, both limbs may be affected.
There are two types of lymphedema. Primary lymphedema and Secondary lymphedema. Primary lymphedema is a hereditary anatomical deformity of the vessels of the lymph system. Although the abnormality is usually present at birth, you probably won’t be aware until later in life that you have the genetic mutation. Secondary lymphedema is a result of damage or obstruction(s), for example, breast cancer surgery.
How do you know if you have lymphedema?
These are the main symptoms of lymphedema:
- Feeling of heaviness or fullness
- Unusually tight skin
- Aching pain in the affected area
- Discoloration (advanced stage)
- Hyperplasia (advanced stage)
- Hyperkeratosis (advanced stage)
- Papillomatosis (advanced stage)
- Deformity (what could eventually occur)
Lymphedema also varies in severity. You can have an extremely mild case or it can be crippling and severe. It can limit your daily activities and cause disproportionate weight gain leading to embarrassment.
How is lymphedema cured?
At this time, there is no surgical or medical cure. And self-management can be distressful and time-consuming. Let us help. Our trained staff can teach you how to manage lymphedema from the comfort of your home.
Home health nurses will:
- Teaching you how to correctly use elastic sleeves and/or stockings
- The proper use pneumatic compression devices
- Manual compression
- Exercises to aid in circulation and flexibility
- Assessing for skin infections and prescribing antibiotics to avoid sepsis
Call Allegiance Home Health and Rehab today to make a referral or to inquire about care for you or a loved one.