Lymphoedema is a long-term (chronic) condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues. It can affect any part of the body, but usually develops in the arms or legs. Lymphoedema is caused by a problem with the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and glands spread throughout the body. The main functions of the lymphatic system are helping fight infection and draining excess fluid from tissues. It is important that lymphoedema is identified and treated as soon as possible. If it is not treated, it can get worse.
Lymphoedema can be primary (congenital) or secondary, for example to cancer, cancer treatments or leg ulcers.
Symptoms of lymphoedema
The main symptom of lymphoedema is swelling in all or part of a limb or another part of the body. It can be difficult to fit into clothes, and jewellery and watches can feel tight.
Other symptoms in an affected body part can include:
- Aching, heavy feeling and difficulty with movement
- Skin infections and wart-like growths on skin
- Hard, tight skin and folds developing in the skin
- Fluid leaking through the skin
Our physiotherapists can work closely with you to design a treatment program to help manage the swelling and meet your goals for returning to your activities. Treatment may include:
- Manual lymphatic drainage, which feels like a light form of massage.
- A personalised exercise program.
- Compression bandaging to help reduce your swelling.
- Educating you about how proper nutrition and diet, and skin and nail care can help reduce your risk of infection.
If you would like to talk to a member of our team, please call us on 0330 335 1016 or alternatively, please fill in the contact sheet and we will get in touch with you.