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Here is a copy and paste from Paul Lester who use to post here. This will explain edema far better then I can. Hugs Lillie
I had a slow build up that just kept getting worse. My left leg and scrotum were most affected. Lori searched the web on the subject and we found out there are Lymphedema therapists who use a combination of manual lymph drainage massage and comprssion bandaging. Most often, there are MLD massage therapists associated with cancer centers. Lymphedema strikes the victims of breast cancer who have had surgery with a lot of lymph nodes removed. So, your oncologist ought to know someone to whom he refers patients.
I have been seeing a therapist since last Wednesday. My left leg is almost completely back to normal size and my right leg is almost there. My scrotum is almost back to normal size after swelling to the size of a cantaloupe - and I am not kidding. I was skeptical at first, but this has proven to be a godsend therapy.
If you or someone you care for has problems with leg swelling, I highly recommend getting in to see a therapist. The swelling does not just go away; it will only get worse if left untreated and it can lead to some fairly severe problems. I wish I had known about this sooner; I could have saved myself some pain and treatment time if I had acted sooner. *** (This above part was all from Paul Lester
The Lymphedema Foundation is providing these answers to Frequently Asked Questions about lymphedema. The Lymphedema Foundation offers FREE Membership and a FREE subscription to its Lymphedema Digest to healthcare professionals who treat the disease and to persons with lymphedema.
For more information about lymphedema and its treatment, contact The Lymphedema Foundation by telephoning [in the U.S.] tollfree at 1-800-LYMPH-DX [that's ], or by writing to The Lymphedema Foundation at Post Office Box 834, San Diego, California 92014-0834. The Lymphedema Foundation is the world's largest non-profit, private, all volunteer, educational organization working for the improvement of lymphedema treatment.
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What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a disorder of human lymphatic circulation, marked by the accumulation of lymph fluid, often in the form of swelling of the arms or legs, that occurs when lymph vessels or lymph nodes are blocked or removed. Press here for more information about the lymphatic system.
Who is at Risk for Lymphedema?
According to the World Health Organization (UN/WHO), each year approximately 250 million people acquire lymphedema, mainly as a result of mosquito-borne microfilaria parasite infection in the tropics.
In industrialized nations, the onset of lymphedema is associated with complications following cancer treatment by means of surgery or radiation therapy.
Women are particularly at risk of developing lymphedema in their arms following surgery or radiation therapy for breast cancer, or in their legs following treatment for cervical cancer, uterine cancer, etc.
Men are particularly at risk of developing lymphedema in their legs following surgery for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, etc.
Both men and women are at risk following treatment of malignant melanomas (skin cancer) with lymph node dissection and/or radiation involving an arm, hand, leg or foot.
What Causes Lymphedema?
The cause is fundamentally unknown, but there are identifiable circumstances associated with the onset of the condition. Primary [inborn] lymphedema can be present at birth (congenital), can occur during adolescence (Milroy's), or can occur after age 35. Secondary [acquired] Lymphedema can triggered in an otherwise lymphedema-free person by surgery/radiation therapy for cancer, a traumatic injury, or an infection. Secondary lymphedema is far more common than primary. In equatorial regions of the earth, most cases of lymphedema result from infection associated with parasites. In Europe, the U.S.A., and other areas, acquired lymphedema is commonly associated with complications following treatment for cancers. Other causes of secondary lymphedema include trauma, tuberculosis, and iatrogenic injury; subcutaneous injections of drugs (such as pentazocine) may also injure the lymphatics and induce this disorder.
Lymphedema may be a temporary condition, or it may be chronic. Chronic lymphedema is seen more commonly in cancer patients.
What are the Symptoms of Lymphedema?
Lymphedema usually begins with swelling of the hands or feet. Anyone who notices persistent swelling in an extremity should seek medical advice. If lymphedema is diagnosed and if treatment begins early, the prognosis for improvement of the condition is much greater than if the swelling is ignored and remains untreated.
Is Lymphedema Curable?
Lymphedema is uncurable, but readily treatable.
How is Lymphedema Treated?
Lymphedema can be controlled by elevating the limb, regular use of a lymphatic sleeve, and treatment with a pneumatic sleeve that massages the limb. Exercise, weight loss, and physical therapy also may help. In cases of infection, antibiotics are administered. In some cases, diuretics are used.
Elevating the limb means simply putting one's feet up, or propping one's arm on a pillow, to allow gravity to facilitate drainage of fluid from the limb(s). The elevated limb should be above the level of the heart.
A lymphatic sleeve is an elastic bandage that fits over the swollen area. Used once or twice per day, the pressure of the sleeve forces fluid into the lymph system.
A pneumatic sleeve is an air-filled applicance that fits over the swollen area, with an air pump to administer messaging. The sleeve has overlapping air compartments that inflate sequentially to provide a pumping motion along the lymphatic vessels and toward the heart. Pneumatic sleeve and pump systems stimulate the weakened lymphatic system by pushing stagnant fluid through the lymphatics. This treatment can be performed by the patient at home for a few minutes or a few hours each day, according to the therapy program recommended by the physician. In the U.S.A., Medicare pays for the sleeve and pump so that patients can self-administer therapy at home as outpatients.
What Happens if Lymphedema is Not Treated?
Chronic lymphedema is a progressive condition that must be treated at the onset. If untreated, lymphedema can lead to:
Increased limb swelling, reduced range of motion, permanent disfigurement Limb heaviness, fungal infections, invasive biological infections Recurrent lymphagnitis leading to lymphadenitis, bacteremia Lymphatic destruction, thrombosis of lymphatic Skin changes, such as hyperkeratosis, fissuring Cellulitis, such as erysipelas Progressive reduction of lymphatic and vascular circulation Chronic ulceration Tissue necrosis, gangrene, amputation.
BUT, lymphedema can be treated, managed, and controlled.
How Can I Obtain More Information about Lymphedema?
Physicians and lymphedama patients are encouraged to contact The Lymphedema Foundation by calling (in the U.S.A.) 1-800-596-7439, or (worldwide) by writing to The Lymphedema Foundation at Post Office Box 834, San Diego, California 92014-0834 U.S.A.
Lymphedema treatment was posted 02/20/2001 12:27 am by Paul Lester E-mail Address:
Message Text There have been several questions about leg swelling posted on the board in the past. I want to pass along what I have learned over the past few weeks.
Swelling in the legs, groin, and maybe lower abdomen is a sign that either the blood system or lymph system is clogged. Lymphedema should not be confused with ascities. Fluid build up in the abdominal cavity due to ascities can be aspirsted. The fluid build up caused by lymphedema is stored in the spaces between the cells of the body. First thing that should be done is to get an ultrasound to rule out clots. If that test comes back clear and there is no abdominal cavity fluid build up and the swelling continues, odds are it is lymphedema - swelling caused by the back up of lymph fluid. Good book on the subject is 'Coping with Lymphedema'.
I hope somebody else will be able to give you information on Ascites I have no knowledge that area. Hugs
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