Lymphedema is the abnormal condition caused by lymphatic obstruction. This condition involves the long-term buildup of the lymphatic fluid which causes swelling in various body parts. The lymphatic fluid is part of the body’s lymphatic system, a system responsible for fighting diseases and infections that might attack the body. This fluid is rich in white blood cells thus its effectiveness in fighting off diseases.
The lymphatic fluid circulates through the body through a network of vessels. These vessels are connected to lymph nodes which filter bacteria, germs and other unwanted organisms in the fluid. Damaging or removing the lymph nodes will, therefore, lead to the accumulation of this fluid thus Lymphedema.
Causes of Lymphedema
Below are the various leading causes of this condition.
Lymph Node Removal
Lymph node removal is common when dealing with cancer. To prevent the spread of
cancerous cells, affected lymph nodes might be removed. This leads to accumulation of the lymphatic fluids
in the surrounding soft tissue. This procedure will easily lead to leg, arm and neck lymphedema.
Radiation therapy may lead to scarring of the lymph vessels. Scarring and inflammation
incurred over a long period of time will lead to vessel blockage. This will result in Lymphedema.
Inflammatory infections. When inflammatory infections that cause body tissue to swell are left untreated for long, the lymphatic system will suffer damage in the affected areas. This damage will most often than not contribute to Lymphedema.
Lymph Vessel/ Lymph Node Blockage
Cancerous cells growing around lymph nodes and lymph vessels will
eventually lead to a blocked lymphatic system. This is especially common to breast cancer patients.
- Tissue swelling in the head or neck.
- Swollen arms and legs, including fingers and toes.
- Discomfort wearing watches, rings or clothes that fit comfortably before.
- Reduced flexibility and weaknesses in the affected arms or legs.
- Thick, hardened skin that is shiny in appearance and does not indent when pressed.
- Severe fatigue that does not go away.
- A heavy feeling on your neck, arm or leg.
In most cases, the above symptoms will begin slow and advance as the condition advances. The above information is therefore useful when detecting and diagnosing this ailment.