Symptoms and Types
There are many causes for lymphedema. This condition is most commonly caused by damage or removal of the lymph nodes as part of cancer treatment. Some other common causes include the removal of the breast (mastectomy), infections with parasites such as filariasis, injury or trauma to the area, past radiation therapy and surgeries, tumor and cellulitis. In a few cases the condition is present from birth (congenital). Lymphedema can develop in months or years after treatment.
In addition to swelling, the most common complications include chronic wounds and ulcers and skin breakdown. Patients with lymphedema must be vigilant about skin care and hygiene.
Your physician can offer different treatment options for lymphedema including:
- Compression devices prescribed by a doctor usually with multi-layered bandages.
- Manual lymph drainage (MLD) or light message to drain fluid.
- Range-of-motion exercises done with the help of a physical therapist.
- Surgery may be necessary in some cases. See surgical options here.
Contact your doctor if you have swelling of your arms, legs, or lymph nodes that does not go away.