What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a condition for which there is no cure at the present time.It can be congenital (primary) or secondary occurring in patients, from lymph node dissection surgeries, radiation / chemotherapy treatments or vascular surgeries. Lymphedema is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the interstitial tissue that causes swelling, most often in the arm(s) and or leg(s), and occasionally in other parts of the body. When the impairment becomes so great that the lymphatic fluid exceeds the lymphatic transport capacity of the vessels, an abnormal amount of protein-rich fluid collects in the tissues of the affected area.Left untreated, this stagnant, protein-rich fluid not only causes tissue channels to increase in size, but also reduces oxygen availability in the transport system, interferes with wound healing and provides a culture medium for bacteria that can result in lymphangitis (infection).
The accumulation of the high protein lymphedematous fluid causes chronic inflammation and fibrosis in the affected extremity, due to the large size of protein molecules not being able to be transported through the lymphatic circulatory system.This condition can be extremely debilitating at times, if left untreated.Stage 4 level of Elephantiasis can occur in these extremities where the limb is left useless and susceptible to infection.
The signs or symptoms of lymphedema include: a full sensation in the limb(s), skin feeling tight, decreased flexibility in the hand, wrist or ankle, difficulty fitting into clothing in one specific area or ring/watchband/bracelet tightness.Early diagnosis and treatment, improves both the prognosis and the condition itself.
With the expertise of our, Board Certified Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physicians, Certified Lymphedema therapists (Physical and Occupational therapists) and administrative personnel we are now able to help those people in our community deal with this condition. Lymphedema is not a well-known condition, with limited access for treatment.
When seeking treatment, please make sure the individual you have chosen is a certified lymphedema therapist. They should have received credentials from one of the schools or associations recognized by the National Lymphedema Network.