What is lymphedema?
Lymphedema is swelling of a body part (face, neck, trunk, genitals, arms, legs, etc.) caused by an abnormal accumulation of lymph fluid. Lymphedema is caused by an imbalance between the normal amount of lymph fluid and reduced capacity that the vessels are able to transport. This results in an accumulation of protein-rich fluid.
Primary lymphedema is the result of imperfect development of the lymph vascular system.
Secondary lymphedema may be the result of surgery and/or radiation for cancer, filariasis, trauma, infection, chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) or obesity.
Are you at risk?
Lymphedema most commonly follows a surgical procedure in which there has been removal of or damage to the lymph nodes or vessels. If you have been exposed to any of the following procedures or situations, you may be at risk for developing lymphedema.
• Surgery and/or radiation for cancer
• Tumoral blockage
• Chronic venous insufficiency
• Severe infection
Symptoms of lymphedema
At the beginning, you may notice swelling in your hand or foot. A ring may seem tighter or shoes may fit more snugly. Sometimes you may sense a feeling of “pins and needles” or “heaviness” in the affected arm or leg, which may be accompanied by arching pain. Unusual or persistent swelling in an extremity should always be evaluated by a physician.
• Full sensation of the limb
• Skin feeling tight
• Decreased flexibility
• Swelling in a specific area
• Thickening/hardening of skin
• Leakage of lymph
• Massive swelling
Early diagnosis and treatment of lymphedema offers the best chance for reversing and/or controlling the condition. When lymphedema goes untreated, the lymph vessels and surrounding tissue become harder and less elastic. Substantial and painful swelling may result.
Lymphedema itself can cause infection. When lymph fluid accumulates in the tissues of a limb, the protein-rich fluid creates a favorable environment for growth of bacteria.
A prescription from your physician is required for insurance payment of lymphedema treatment.
Treatment for lymphedema is CDT (complete decongestive therapy) which includes five components: MLD (manual lymph drainage), compression therapy, exercise, skin and nail care and instructions on self-care. CDT requires patients to be active in their treatment as they learn how to manage this chronic condition. CDT is the most successful for chronic lymphedema. Primary and secondary lymphedema and other related conditions respond extremely well to this gentle, noninvasive and highly effective therapy.
• Avoid blood draws or blood pressure cuffs on an affected limb.
• Lead a healthy lifestyle including a hearthealthy diet and exercise.
• Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures both hot and cold.
• Use care with rings, watches, bracelets, which can be constrictive.
• Use sunscreen to minimize dangerous skin exposure.
• Be aware that infections can result from insect bites, manicures, pedicures, skin punctures, cuts, pet scratches, gardening, etc.
• When traveling, always wear a compression garment or bandages. On plane trips over one hour, it is suggested that you get up and move around in the aisles as much as possible. When traveling by car, stop and walk around for a few minutes every hour.
To learn more about treatment options, call us at 785-295-8045
Is there a cure?
Presently there is no cure for lymphedema. Effective management is possible through clinical treatment, education and individual efforts at home.
Is there anything I can do to ease the swelling?
Fortunately the answer is YES! We offer a comprehensive and effective treatment for people suffering from lymphedema. Feel good again. Our staff of caring professionals can help you get back on track.
What is lipedema?
Lipedema is a chronic medical condition characterized by a symmetric buildup of adipose tissue (fat) in the legs and arms. A common but under-recognized disorder, lipedema may cause pain, swelling and easy bruising. It may be accompanied by an unusual texture within the fat that can feel like rice, peas or walnuts beneath the surface of the skin. The intensity of pain may range from none to severe, and its frequency may be constant, come and go or only occur when the fat is pushed on. Limited public awareness of lipedema, coupled with few research-backed treatments, can lead to exacerbation of symptoms as well as physical and emotional distress. Common symptoms include fatigue, muscle pain or easy bruising. Treatment is very similar to that of lymphedema and we are able to help patients with this condition as well.