Lymphedema is swelling of your arms, legs, breast or torso. Generally, swelling due to extra fluid, built up in the tissue when the lymphatic system isn’t working well, usually because of the damaged of removed lymph nodes. It is simply the side effect of cancer treatment and which show after years.



It occurs when your lymph vessels are unable to adequately drain lymph fluid, usually from an arm or leg. It can be either primary or secondary. This means it can occur on its own (primary ), or it can be caused by another disease or condition (secondary). Secondary lymphedema is more common than primary lymphedema.

Causes of secondary lymphedema

  • Surgery
  • Radiation treatment for cancer
  • Cancer
  • Infection of lymph nodes.

 Causes of primary lymphedema

It is a rare, inherited condition caused by problems with the development of lymph vessels in your body.

  • Milroy’s disease
  • Meige’s disease
  • Late-onset lymphedema


Symptoms of Lymphedema

  • Achiness, itching, discomfort, or increased warmth in the arm, hand, breast or underarms
  • Feelings of heaviness in the suffered area.
  • Tightness / less flexibility in nearby joints.
  • Hard to fit the arm into a jacket / shirt sleeve that fit well before.
  • It is hard to wear watches, rings or bracelets.
  • Change in the skin, such as tightness, redness or hardening.
  • Rashes, itching, pain or warmth skin.

Usually the swelling due to this disease ranges from very mild, hardly noticeable changes in terms of the size of your arm or leg to extreme changes that make the entire limb difficult to use. Lymphedema due to cancer treatment may not occur until months or years after the treatment.


Prevention of Lymphedema

If a patient had in the past or going to have any cancer surgery, he should ask his doctors whether the procedure will involve his lymph nodes or lymph vessels. Ask if the radiation treatment will be aimed at lymph nodes, so that he will be aware of the possible risks.

To reduce the risk :

  • Protect the arm or leg.
  • Rest your arm or leg while recovering.
  • Avoid heat on your arm or leg.
  • Elevate your arm or leg.
  • Avoid tight clothing.
  • Keep your arm or leg clean.



Physical therapy for Lymphedema

Physical therapy helps in improving the flow of lymph from your arm or leg. This is followed by compression bandaging that helps to reduce the swelling. Physical therapy is a safe and sensible exercise program that will increase your physical fitness without unnecessarily straining your affected arm or leg

There are many physical therapy treatments such as Manual therapy & Active Release Techniques (ART) are found to be very effective in treating this type of disorder.
For more information- Contact your local SOS PHYSIO clinic


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