An estimated one in 1,000 Americans lives with lymphedema, a type of chronic swelling. The condition develops when lymph fluid can’t drain properly, and it can cause debilitating pain and disfiguring swelling if untreated. Whether your lymphedema develops as a result of cancer treatment or something else, board-certified vascular surgeon Saleem Saiyad, MD, Nestor Guerrero, ARNP-C, and the team at Premier Vein & Vascular in Tampa and Largo, Florida, can help. Call the nearest office or book online today for top-quality lymphedema care.
Lymphedema is swelling caused by a buildup of lymph fluid in your soft tissue. It often appears in an arm or leg, but it can appear in both arms or both legs at once. Lymphedema is chronic, and swelling ranges from mild and barely noticeable to severe and disabling.
Your lymphatic system naturally flushes bacteria, viruses, and waste products from your body. Lymph fluid travels through your body and gets filtered by lymph nodes in your groin, underarms, and neck. When your lymph nodes are impaired, lymph fluid gets trapped inside your body and causes lymphedema.
Cancer and radiation therapy to treat it are leading causes of lymphedema. Any type of surgery that removes or damages lymph nodes can result in lymphedema, and it may not develop until several years later.
Cancer and surgery are the most common causes of lymphedema, but being older, having rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, or being obese can also trigger lymphedema swelling.
If you’re at risk for lymphedema, it’s important to identify the condition early to prevent it from getting worse. Signs of lymphedema to look for include:
The area affected by lymphedema generally depends on which lymph node was damaged or removed. For example, surgery to treat breast cancer may remove lymph nodes in the underarm, causing lymphedema in the arm or hand.
There’s no cure for lymphedema, but treatment can minimize swelling and reduce pain. With a comprehensive exam and review of your medical history, the team at Premier Vein & Vascular diagnoses your condition and recommends a range of treatments to fit your needs.
Gentle exercise, such as lifting or moving your arm or leg, can encourage fluid drainage while preparing you to do more everyday tasks with less pain. Manual lymph drainage massage can be therapeutic for people with lymphedema or active cancer because it moves fluid from the affected area.
Compression, either by properly bandaging the limb or wearing compression garments, helps lymph fluid drain to your trunk. Work with the team at Premier Vein & Vascular to learn bandaging techniques or find a properly-fitting compression garment that doesn’t restrict blood circulation.
Having lymphedema doesn’t mean you have to suffer ongoing pain and loss of mobility. Book an appointment at Premier Vein & Vascular over the phone or online to learn more about your treatment options.