What is lymphoedema and who does it affect?
Lymphoedema is the build-up of fluid in the body due to a compromised lymphatic system. The fluid usually builds up slowly over time and can be anywhere in the body, but most commonly in the arm or leg. It can be a side effect of cancer surgery, where they remove the lymph nodes (often in the groin or underarm) or be a chronic condition that you are born with.
How do I know I have lymphoedema?
You’ll usually get the diagnosis from your doctor or oncologist and early signs and symptoms are:
- A general ache in the limb with a vague heaviness
- Decreased movement in the limb
- Tightness of jewellery, shoes or clothes
- Swelling in the limb
- Recurring skin infections in the area
Risk factors for developing lymphoedema are:
- Cancer treatment which involves lymph node removal and radiation therapy
- Poor hygiene and skincare
What do I do if I have these symptoms?
Lymphoedema is very manageable if caught early and if you notice any of these symptoms then speak to your GP or oncologist. Ongoing management will require a referral to an accredited lymphoedema therapist which will continue with your ongoing treatment.
What does treatment involve?
Treatment can greatly reduce swelling, reduce pain/discomfort and improve the function of the limb. Along with your doctor or oncologist, accredited lymphoedema therapists can use a range of techniques to help you manage your symptoms and take back control.
• Manual therapy – manual lymphatic drainage techniques
• Skin care and scar management
For more information about Lymphoedema view our service here.