Lymphatic Conditions

Lipoedema

Lipoedema, also known as the “Painful Fat Syndrome”, is a long-term (chronic) condition where there’s an abnormal build-up of fat cells in the legs, thighs and buttocks, and sometimes in the arms and has no cure. Those with Lipoedema tend to have ‘column’ legs and the lower part of their body is larger than the upper body.  It affects predominately women, is thought to be hereditary and the disease seems to progress during hormonal changes such as Puberty, Pregnancy and Menopause.  Lipoedema is commonly misdiagnosed as obesity.

There are a few differences between Lipoedema and Obesity:

  • Lipoedema fat will not reduce with extreme exercise and diets
  • The lower body tends to be larger than the upper body, with the feet not  being affected
  • Heaviness and discomfort of the legs
  • Legs can be painful to touch
  • Bruise easily
  • Arms can be large, but not the hands

Lipoedema has 4 stages and the disease can progress through the stages if preventative measures are not undertaken.  It is important to keep in mind not everyone will progress to stage 4.

Progression and Symptoms can be slowed down with:

  • Regular Lymphatic Drainage Massage (also known as Manual Lymphatic Drainage – MLD)
  • Wearing compression garments
  • Aquatic exercise/being active
  • Low inflammatory diet
  • Vibration plates
  • Sequential compression pump

Photo of Lymphatic conditions lymphedema and lipedema

Lymphoedema

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.