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
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.