What are the warning signs of lymphedema?

What are the warning signs of lymphedema?

January 22, 2020

Lymphedema is a condition in which excess fluid collects in tissues, resulting in swelling. It generally affects one or both of the arms or legs and is caused by the blocking of the lymphatic system. If you begin experiencing symptoms of lymphedema, you'll want to have it diagnosed as quickly as possible. Although there's no cure, it is treatable. Not to mention that the longer it goes unaddressed, the more serious the complications can become (such as the risk of serious infection).

Are you at risk for lymphedema?

The following are a few factors that can increase your risk of experiencing lymphedema:

  • You've had your lymph node removed for biopsies.
  • You've experienced lymphangitis, cellulitis, or erysipelas infection.
  • You've undergone radiation treatment, especially treatment focused on areas that contain clusters of lymph nodes.
  • You're morbidly obese.
  • You've experienced serious burns or sunburns.
  • You've experienced deep invasive wounds that could damage the lymphatics.
  • Your family has a history of unknown swellings of a limb.

What are the signs of lymphedema?

Early symptoms of lymphedema can include:

  • Tingling sensations in one of your limbs.
  • Heavy achy feelings in your limbs.
  • Tight sensations in one of the hands or feet.
  • Noticeable swelling in your arm, leg, hand, or foot.
  • Swelling in the limbs that goes down after a short period of time.
  • A lack of flexibility in your hand, wrist, or ankle.
  • Skin that dents if you put pressure on it.
  • Skin that feels tight.

If these early symptoms aren't addressed, lymphedema could progress and cause an infection. If it does develop into an infection, symptoms may include:

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fevers and chills
  • Pain, swelling, or tenderness
  • Red, warm, or draining sores
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Painful and/or frequent urination
  • A persistent cough
  • Nasal congestion or sinus drainage

How can physical therapy help treat lymphedema?

One of the reasons you'll want to have it diagnosed as soon as possible is because you may be able to treat lymphedema with physical therapy. A physical therapist will use several types of treatments, such as massage, exercise, manual lymphatic drainage, and the use of compression stockings or multilayer bandaging to reduce pain and discomfort, help restore function, and help to prevent the risk of infection.

If you are suffering from lymphedema, then you'll want to begin physical therapy in order to treat your symptoms. Contact us at Advanced Motion Therapeutic to schedule an appointment today.