Understanding And Treating Lymphedema

in Fluid
The lymphatic system is a crucial component of the immune system, circulating a protein-rich fluid called "lymph" throughout the body. Lymph transports bacteria, viruses, and waste products through the lymph vessels to the lymph nodes, where they are filtered out by lymphocytes - infection-fighting white-blood cells that reside in the lymph nodes.

When the lymphatic system is compromised, a condition called lymphedema, or lymphatic obstruction, develops. With lymphedema, lymph vessels are unable to adequately drain lymph fluid, usually from an arm or leg. Tissues with lymphedema are at risk of infection.

Symptoms of lymphedema in the limb include localized fluid accumulation, or swelling; a heavy or tight feeling; limited range of motion; aching or discomfort; recurrent infection; and, discoloration of the skin overlying the area.

The etiology of lymphedema can be inherited or may be the result of trauma to the lymphatic vessels. Most frequently, lymphedema begins after lymph node dissection, surgery or radiation therapy in which lymphatic system is affected following the treatment of cancer, most notably breast cancer.

While there is no cure for this condition, a variety of treatment strategies exist, focusing on diligent care of the affected limb. With careful care, the symptoms of lymphedema can be effectively managed.

*Exercises - Light exercises encourage the movement of the lymph fluid out of the affected extremity. Exercises should not be strenuous or exhausting, but should focus on gentle contraction of the muscles in the affected limb.
*Wrapping the affected appendage - Bandages, such as lymphedema armsleeves, encourage the flow of lymph fluid from the affected appendage toward the trunk of the body.
*Massage - The massage technique "manual lymph drainage," involving special hand strokes on the affected limb, may encourage the flow of lymph fluid toward healthy lymph nodes, where it can drain. Massage should be avoided for those with skin infections, active cancer, blood clots or congestive heart failure.
*Pneumatic compression - This involves wearing a special sleeve over the arm or leg, which connects to a pump that intermittently inflates the sleeve, putting pressure on the limb to gently move excess lymph fluid.
*Compression garments - These include lymphedema armsleeves or specialized leg stockings developed to compress the arm or leg and ease fluid from the extremity. Once fluid is controlled through other measures, compression garments may be suggested by a doctor to prevent future swelling.

Obtaining the correct garment can be facilitated with professional advice. They can be purchased through an online retailer.
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Christine Harrell has 1 articles online


Author is a freelance copywriter. For more information about treat lymphedema, please visit http://www.brightlifedirect.com/.

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Understanding And Treating Lymphedema

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This article was published on 2011/04/15