Lymphoedema is swelling in the body, due to the lymphatic vessels not being able to ‘mop’ up excess fluid in the body. Unfortunately, Lymphoedema will not heal itself, there is no cure so treatment is needed to manage the swelling and pain.
Lymphoedema is generally in a limb, but can occur anywhere in the body. Once the fluid has been drained from the affected area, using Complete Decongestive Therapy, a compression garment will be measured and worn daily.
Lymphoedema can be caused by cancer treatment or infection.
Primary Lymphoedema vs Secondary Lymphoedema:
Primary Lymphoedema is when someone is born with a lymphatic system that has not developed properly, causing fluid to accumulate in the limb, leading to swelling. Primary Lymphoedema can present at birth or in adulthood. However if not present at birth, stress or trauma to the body as an adult, can trigger the swelling to occur. Primary Lymphoedema is hereditary.
Secondary Lymphoedema occurs after illness, surgery, radiation therapy or an accident, which causes trauma to the lymphatic vessels and/or lymph nodes. Again, the swelling may not present immediately but can be triggered weeks, months or even years later.