This is the condition that is characterized by general swelling of one of the arm or leg. Sometimes both arm or leg can be involved. This condition mostly result from the removal or damage of lymph node as a part of cancer therapy.

  • All part of arm or leg swells including toes and fingers
  • Feeling of tightness and heaviness
  • Decrease range of motion
  • Discomfort and pain
  • Recurrent infections
  • Fibrosis of the skin

Any condition or procedure that affect the lymph nodes or lymph vessels leads to the lymphedema. Lymphatic system is a very important system of the body as it circulates protein-rich lymph fluid and collect bacteria, viruses and waste products in it. Some major causes are:

  • Surgical removal of injured lymph node
  • Radiation therapy causing scarring and inflammation of lymph vessels
  • Cancer cells blocking lymphatic vessels.
  • Milroy’s disease (congenital lymphedema)
  • Late-onset lymphedema (lymphedema tarda)
  • Infections like cellulitis and lymphangitis
  • Lymphangiosarcoma ( rare soft tissue cancer )

Diagnosis of this condition depends upon detailed medical history and complete general physical examination of the patient. Other tests include:

  • MRI
  • Doppler ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • Radionuclide imaging of your lymphatic system (lymphoscintigraphy)

Treatment options focuses on reduction of pain and swelling and include the following:

  • Light exercise of affected limb
  • Tight bandage around fingers and loose as moves up the arm or leg to encourage lymph flow backward
  • Massage
  • Compression garments
  • Pneumatic compression
  • Complete decongestive therapy (CDT)
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