Lymphedema is an uncomfortable condition that often develops after breast surgery.
Like many parts of the body, you may never notice your lymph vessels when they are functioning properly – but when something goes awry, the problem becomes quickly obvious. Whether the vessels are damaged, removed, impaired, or just missing altogether, without the ability to flow, lymphatic fluid will accumulate and cause swelling in the arms or legs. When untreated, the National Lymphedema Network warns that the swelling can become uncomfortable or painful if an infection develops. It can also interfere with your body's ability to heal wounds.
The National Cancer Institute categorizes lymphedema depending on its cause. Primary lymphedema occurs without an external influence. In some cases, patients may be born with lymphedema. Other patients may develop an abnormality in their lymph vessels that results in the condition later in life.
Secondary lymphedema is caused by damages to lymph vessels that occurs during a procedure, accident, injury, or illness. Many cases of secondary lymphedema are found in patients who have undergone breast surgery.
There is no cure for lymphedema, but managing the condition can keep symptoms at bay and prevent complications from arising. With the help of a healthcare professional, you can learn how to encourage health drainage through compression, massage, and exercise. Patients will also need to regularly check their skin for signs of slow-healing wounds or infections.
If you struggle with Lymphedema, the Kohly Center for Outpatient Rehabilitation can help you manage your symptoms and reduce discomfort. Learn more at our website or give us a call (305) 285-2966.