The main role of the lymphatic system is to fight bacterial microbes and manage fluid in the body. It collects the fluid from the tissues and then sends the fluid to be filtered through the lymph nodes, spleen and thymus to be removed via the bloodstream.
If the lymphatic system has been damaged or compromised due to trauma, illness, surgery, radiation, node removal, toxins, immobility or cancer treatment it cannot function correctly and results in excess lymph fluid being deposited into the tissues creating swelling in the limbs and the body.
Sometimes you are born with the condition and it may not get detected until you are in your adolescent years when puberty arrives. You could have a feeling of heaviness in the limb or unexplained swelling. The limb may feel hot and the skin could feel tight and dry, like it may burst.
Hence the name lymphoedema – lymph being the fluid, oedema meaning swelling.
Over time the fluid can become hard and fibrous increasing the discomfort to the affected limb.
Lymphoedema certainly can be quite painful and causes extreme discomfort. Although it cannot be cured, it can be treated and maintained with simple but effective techniques called Decongestive Therapy. This therapy can include the very gentle modality of Manual Lymphatic Drainage and may be coupled with compression garments or multi level bandaging for even greater results.
Part of your treatment will include learning how to manage your condition at home for best maintenance inbetween visits.
Treatment would be discussed with your therapist but will usually mean a series of appointments close together to get started then tapered off into a maintenance program. Appointments will differ in time as treatments can also change depending on the results being achieved.
Usually treatments will be put together as a package to start with and re-evaluated over time.