Lymphedema is a condition that results in swelling, most commonly in the arms or legs. It can occur due to damage to lymph vessels or when lymph nodes are removed as part of cancer treatment called secondary lymphedema. Lymphedema may also occur due to hereditary conditions called primary lymphedema. Lymphedema is separate from other forms of swelling such as kidney failure, cardiac swelling or improper functioning of the vein valve.

Signs and symptoms

  • Swelling of part or all of your arm or leg, including fingers or toes
  • A feeling of heaviness or tightness in your affected arm or leg
  • Restricted range of motion/movement in your affected arm or leg
  • Aching or discomfort in your affected arm or leg
  • Recurring infections in your affected arm or leg
  • Hardening and thickening of the skin (fibrosis) in your affected arm or leg

Treatment options

Phase 1: Treatment

Treatment of lymphedema includes manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), compression bandaging, home exercise program, proper skin care and continued education on how to manage lymphedema.

Phase 2: Maintenance

After completing treatment and reducing limb size, clients are measured for garments that will be worn at day and night time. Carryover of home exercise program and proper skin care continues.