Lymphoedema is a swelling of part of the body, usually a leg or an arm. This is due to a mechanical failure of the lymphatic system and occurs when the demand for lymphatic drainage exceeds the capacity of the lymphatic circulation. It also can occur as a side effect of cancer treatment when lymph nodes have been removed or damaged causing lymph fluid to build up in tissue under the skin. The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and nodes throughout the body that transports fluid (lymph) from the body tissues back to the bloodstream. It is like a drainage system responsible for removing waste products from the tissues like pathogens or abnormal proteins.
Causes of Lymphoedema:
Primary Lymphoedema: This form may be presents at birth, develop at the onset of puberty. It affects how the lymph vessels where formed.
- Trauma and tissue damage
- Venous disease
- Immobility and dependency
- Factious – self harm
- Infection such as cellulitis, Filariasis
Signs and Symptoms:
- Swelling in an arm or a leg.
- Limbs can feel heavy and achy
- There is altered sensation, for example, pins and needles, burning
- Reduced mobility and range of movement of the affected limb
- Pain and joint discomfort
- Skin changes, for example redness and increased temperature
- Reoccurring infections in the involved limb
- Hardening, thickening, or tightness of the skin
- Loss of hair
- Loss of sleep
Physiotherapy Treatment & Management:
Lymphedema is a progressive disease, and early diagnosis and treatment are crucial.
At My Physio My Health we diagnose and treat both mild and early onset cases to stop the progression of this lifelong and often debilitating condition.
We use Decongestive lymphedema therapy (DLT) which is the primary treatment for moderate-to-severe lymphedema and mobilises lymph and dissipate fibrosclerotic tissue.
We also use Manual lymph drainage (MLD): Light lymph massage designed to increase lymph flow
Our staff are trained to prescribe the most suitable compression stocking that helps with drainage. They also prescribe the right exercise program to promote lymph drainage and protein absorption via muscle contraction.