Lymphedema

Also known as: lymphatic edema.

What is lymphedema?

Edema is the medical term for swelling. When swelling occurs due to a blockage in the lymphatic system, this is known as lymphedema.

What causes lymphedema?

The blockage in the lymphatic system that leads to lymphedema can be caused by a congenital blockage, infection, surgery, cancer, radiation therapy or another disease.

What are the symptoms of lymphedema?

The swelling related to lymphedema primarily affects an arm or leg. It can be accompanied by discomfort, a feeling of heaviness, restricted range of motion, recurrent infection or hard and thick skin.

What are lymphedema care options?

Lymphedema cannot be cured. Symptoms can be managed with compression therapies and garments, exercises, massage and other therapies. In severe cases, surgery may be needed to drain fluid or remove excess tissue from the arm or leg. New advancements are on the horizon though for surgery to eliminate the lymphedema in certain patients.


Reviewed by: Chad A Perlyn, MD

This page was last updated on: December 18, 2020 05:05 PM

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