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What Are My Treatment Options for Lymphedema?


Lymphedema is a condition that leads to swelling of the upper and lower limbs, but we also see it in the abdomen, neck and shoulders. The condition can be heartbreaking as it can be a cosmetic concern that leads to physical discomfort. Unfortunately, there are no known cures for lymphedema, making the condition seem as though it’s a constant uphill battle – with no end in sight. However, with proper care, knowledge and help, it is possible to manage your condition. Treatment options are available for you if you are a lymphedema sufferer, allowing you to get the swelling under control and prevent pain associated with the swelling.

If you struggle with lymphedema, we here at Vein Care Center Laser Specialists want to assure you that you can manage your condition. Dr. Manu Aggarwal is certified by the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine. We are one of the very few locations in Northwest Ohio who have a certified lymphedema therapist.

Read on to learn more about your lymphedema and what you can do to mitigate the discomforts the condition causes. Contact us at 419-227-4472 or visit our contact page to schedule a consultation, and we can discuss your situation in greater detail.

What Caused My Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a condition that commonly occurs after cancer treatment. This happens because surgery and radiation from cancer treatments can damage or potentially remove your lymph nodes. Your lymph nodes are part of your lymphatic system, which supports your body’s immune system to remove toxins and other foreign substances. When your lymphatic system gets damaged, fluids can begin to build up in your body’s soft tissues. Regarding lymphedema caused by cancer treatments, the condition can arise within one year of having the treatments performed. However, while cancer treatments put you at high risk for developing lymphedema, there are other factors that can put you at risk.

Some factors include your genetics, infections and if you have scar tissues. If you have family members with lymphedema, it can put you at risk for developing the condition at some point in your life. Certain associated diseases, including Meige and Milroy, can increase your risk for lymphedema a significant amount if your family members have them. Infections and scar tissues can lead to lymphedema as well as an infection can potentially damage your lymphatic system, leading to fluid obstruction and buildup.

Certain characteristics can also heighten your risk for developing lymphedema after cancer treatments, including your age, if you are obese and if you have arthritis. It’s crucial to understand that even though you’ve developed lymphedema, it was more than likely out of your control and is not something you should feel shame over.

Why Treat My Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a condition that can be physically and mentally taxing. When your limbs are severely swollen, it can potentially lead to itchiness, aches and general pain. The condition can also lead to embarrassment and prevent you from showing your legs or arms confidently in public. In short, lymphedema is a condition that can be tough to live with, making it one that should be treated rather than ignored.

Other issues can arise with your lymphedema, making it especially important that it is managed. If your lymphedema affected limb becomes infected, the infection can spread quickly because your lymphatic system is inept, decreasing the reliability of your immune system. Cellulitis, an infection of the skin, can spread very quickly if your lymphedema goes untreated. Infections of the blood, which are known as sepsis, can also become very serious and potentially life-threatening.

While lymphedema is a mentally and physically taxing condition, it can lead to more serious health problems if it goes undealt with.

Will I Always Have Lymphedema?

Unfortunately, there are no known cures for lymphedema. Despite this, the condition can be managed so that it does not significantly impact your daily life and interactions with others. It is best to take steps toward managing your lymphedema sooner rather than later. The earlier you start managing your lymphedema, the greater success you will have. It is essential to also openly talk to family and friends about how the condition affects you, mentally and physically. Being open about your lymphedema is a step in the right direction.

What Treatments Will Help Manage my Lymphedema?

Several treatment options can help get your lymphedema under control. Depending on the severity of your lymphedema and how soon you begin addressing it, you may need a combination of treatments. Treatments that can help manage your lymphedema include:

Compression stockings or bandaging can be utilized to get your lymphedema under control. Compression stockings can help remove excess fluid from your lymphedema affected limb, allowing the fluid to settle in other parts of your body. Compression stockings or bandaging can be customized and fitted based on the severity of your lymphedema.

Exercising is an excellent way to manage your lymphedema that can also be mentally and physically beneficial in other aspects of your life. Light exercises are recommended. By doing so, the gentle contractions of your muscles can improve lymph fluid drainage. Helpful lymphedema exercises include squats, knee bends and calf extensions.

Pneumatic compression involves applying pressure to move fluid out of your lymphedema affected area. The treatment is achieved by using a sleeve that builds with pressure intermittently. Pneumatic compression moves excess fluid away from your hands and feet.

Manual lymph drainage (MLD) is a process where a trained specialist uses massage techniques specially designed to move excess fluid out of your limb. MLD is a gentle massage that should be performed under the guidance of a specialist. The treatment differs from your typical massage, which is usually more rigorous and deep. MLD is a light massage that feels like your skin is being brushed, which gradually pushes fluid away from your affected limb.

Complete decongestive therapy (CDT) is a combination of all of the above treatment options. CDT is the most effective means for managing your lymphedema. The therapy is particularly beneficial if your lymphedema has progressed past stage one when symptoms are more apparent visibly.

There Are Options Available to Treat Your Lymphedema

Lymphedema is a disheartening condition that can affect your overall well-being. The condition may feel as though it will define you for life, given that there is no known cure. However, it is entirely possible to manage your condition, especially if managed sooner rather than later, allowing you to live with confidence.

If you are a resident of Lima, Celina or Findlay, OH, and struggle with lymphedema, please contact Vein Care Center Laser Specialists at 419-227-4472 or visit our contact page.

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