incredible-marketing Arrow

Lymphedema: Symptoms and Causes

leg swelling lymphedema patient

Swelling in any area of the body can be a source of physical discomfort and significant concern. When that symptom of swelling is attributed to lymphedema, it can be frustrating to realize there is no cure for this chronic condition. However, with early diagnosis, education and careful management, it is possible to control this condition in many cases. The Vein Care Center wants you to have all the facts necessary to take charge of your lymphedema, so the interference in your daily life is minimal.

Why do I have lymphedema?

Lymphedema is frequently associated with cancer treatment since damage or removal of the lymph nodes during surgery or radiation frequently contribute to the onset of the disease. Lymphedema can appear soon after cancer treatment, usually during the first year after your procedure is completed. However, some people develop the disorder months or even years after their treatment is over. While cancer treatment is one of the top risk factors for lymphedema, it is not the only one. Other potential causes of lymphedema include:

  • Genetics – Family members with lymphedema or diseases associated with the disorder such as Milroy or Meige disease increase the likelihood you will develop lymphedema at some point as well.
  • Infection – Some infections can cause damage to the lymphatic system that can lead to obstruction and the onset of lymphedema.
  • Scar Tissue – Scarring often forms after cancer surgery or other types of surgery, which can damage lymph nodes or lymph vessels to cause lymphedema.

Some characteristics can increase the risk these factors might lead to lymphedema, including advanced age, obesity and a condition like rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis.

How do I know it’s lymphedema?

Not all swelling indicates the presence of lymphedema. Other symptoms of this disorder might include:

  • One or both limbs, or a portion of the arm or leg, is swollen
  • The limb may feel tight or heavy
  • If the swelling becomes severe, range of motion may be affected
  • The limb may also become deformed in advanced cases
  • The swollen area may be achy, painful or tingly
  • Swelling may occur in other areas, including the head and neck
  • Skin changes in the swollen area, including thickening and hardening

Dr. Aggarwal will carefully evaluate the affected area, talk to you about your medical history and may perform additional assessments to provide an accurate diagnosis. From there, she can recommend the best treatment program for you.

What are my biggest concerns with lymphedema?

Lymphedema is both physically uncomfortable and embarrassing in some cases. The swelling can be pronounced, significantly impacting your appearance as well as your ability to participate in some activities. In addition to the general discomfort that commonly accompanies this condition, are there other issues to be concerned about as you are managing lymphedema. The answer is yes, but if you remain on top of your care, you should be able to keep those potential risks in check.

Infection is one of the most significant concerns for individuals with lymphedema. Even a small injury to the affected area can become infected quickly due to the changes in the lymphatic system and blood flow. Infections to the skin, known as cellulitis can spread and become very difficult to treat thoroughly. Infections to the blood, known as sepsis, can also advance quickly and become very serious and even life-threatening.

Can I get rid of my lymphedema?

Unfortunately, lymphedema is a chronic condition that does not have a “cure” at this time. However, the disorder can be successfully managed to minimize the impact on your daily life. The earlier you begin taking steps to keep lymphedema under control, the more successful your efforts will be. Because it is an ongoing process to care for lymphedema, finding support from others who are coping with the same condition can also be very helpful as a part of your treatment program.

How do I manage my condition?

The management of lymphedema typically requires a variety of steps that must regularly be performed -even daily in many cases – to keep the condition in check. The goal of these therapies is to encourage a healthy movement of the lymph fluid to reduce swelling and other associated symptoms. Treatment options might include:


Compression therapy is one of the best defenses against lymphedema. By applying graduated compression to the limb, we can encourage the flow of lymph fluid out to relieve swelling in the area. Compression therapy can be done through different methods:

Wrapping bandages around the area, making the compression tighter at the fingers or toes and gradually easing the tension as it moves up the limb. This procedure should only be performed by an experienced lymphedema therapist or after you are taught how to do so correctly by your therapist to avoid additional injury to the lymphatic system.

Wearing compression garments specifically designed for treatment of conditions like lymphedema. These prescription-grade socks and sleeves come in a variety of compression strengths, so they can be customized to the amount of swelling you are currently experiencing. Dr. Aggarwal will recommend the right power for you. To have the greatest result, these garments need to be worn exactly as directed, particularly during exercise.

Applying pneumatic compression, which typically involves a different type of garment that connects to a pump. The pump inflates the sleeve at intervals to apply pressure and then deflate to assist in the movement of pneumatic fluid out of the limb.

Massage Therapy

A particular type of massage technique, known as manual lymph drainage may also be used to move lymph fluid out of the limb manually. This therapy should only be performed by a specialist that is trained in lymph drainage techniques. Some patients may not be good candidates for massage, due to infections or other medical issues. Dr. Aggarwal and her experienced lymphedema therapist will carefully evaluate you before recommending this therapy to ensure it will be safe for you.


Dr. Aggarwal may also prescribe certain medications that would be helpful in managing some of the symptoms of lymphedema, including Vasculera. The purified diosmin in this medication, isolated from the bioflavonoid hesperidin, helps to work on the microcirculatory system of the body, and mitigates inflammatory damage to the vein wall. Dr. Aggarwal will go through your health history before prescribing medication that will be safe and suitable for you.

Living with lymphedema is not always easy, but the good news is there are ways to manage this condition to lessen its impact on your daily life and your ability to enjoy the activities you love. To learn more about any of these treatments, contact The Vein Care Center today at 419-227-4472. Now is the time to schedule your appointment to find out how we can help you live a higher quality of life by managing your lymphedema.

View All Of Our Patient's Testimonials


Contact Dr. Manu B. Aggarwal and her team today!!