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Celebrate World Lymphedema Day

Pump It Up For World Lymphedema Day

It’s time to come together and spread awareness for World Lymphedema Day 2019! Lymphedema may affect over 250 million people worldwide, creating pain and swelling for patients of all ages. Take this opportunity to educate the world about the global lymphedemic by sharing information about causes, symptoms, testing, treatment, and much more.

World Lymphedema Day

Lymphedema Causes

Lymphedema occurs when this is a blockage in the circulatory system, which is a part of the circulatory system that’s vital for immune function. As a result of the blockage of lymphatic obstruction, lymph fluid collects in the tissues and causes swelling. 

Fluid generally collects in the lower extremities, but can also collect in the arms, head, chest, or genitals. There are two types of lymphedema primary and secondary which are both caused by a variety of factors.

Secondary Lymphedema: This type of lymphedema is caused by damage made to the lymph nodes or vessels, such as:

  • Surgery – The removal or injury of lymph nodes or vessels. 
  • Lymphedema causes swelling in the limbs Cancer (primarily breast cancer)Cancer cells may block lymph vessels or a tumor may grow near a lymph node or vessel to block the flow of lymph fluid.
  • Radiation – Radiation treatment for cancer may scar or damage lymph nodes of vessels.
  • Infection – An infection of the lymph nodes or parasites may restrict the flow of lymph fluid.

Primary Lymphedema: This type of lymphedema is caused by inherited conditions that may impact the development of the lymph vessels such as:

  • Milroy’s Disease or Congenital Lymphedema – A disorder that begins in infancy that causes lymph nodes to abnormally form.
  • Meige’s Disease or Lymphedema Praecox – A disorder that causes lymphedema around the age of puberty or pregnancy, however, it can occur later in life around age 35.
  • Late On-Set Lymphedema or Lymphedema Tarda – A rare form of lymphedema that begins after the age of 35.

Lymphedema Symptoms

There are many warning signs that can signal lymphedema. Consult your doctor if you recognize any of the following signs:

  • Full or partial swelling of the arm, lege, fingers, or toes that may be mild or causes noticeable changes in the size of the limb.
  • A heavy or tight sensation in the extremities
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Pain, aches, or discomfort
  • Fibrosis or the hardening and thickening of your skin.

Testing For Lymphedema

There are a variety of ways to test for lymphedema that involve either taking a look at your lymphatic system or measuring the displacement of water in certain areas of the body. Tests may include:

  • MRI Scan – The use of the magnetic field and radio waves to produce high-resolution 3D images. 
  • Testing for lymphedema is easy with SOZOCT Scan – An X-ray technique used to reveal blockages of the lymphatic system by producing detailed, cross-section images of your body.
  • Doppler Ultrasound – An ultrasound technique used to find lymph obstructions by bouncing high-frequency soundwaves off of red blood cells.
  • Radionuclide Imagine or Lynoisuctigrapghy – The process of being injected with radioactive dye and then scanned by a machine that creates images as the dye moves through your lymphatic system to show blockages.
  • SUZO – SUZO is the new FDA approved sensitive and noninvasive way for early detection of lymphedema in the limb by using bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS). It works by sending a painless electrical current at multiple frequencies through the body to measure the body’s resistance and reactance to provide easy access to fluid and tissue information. 

The WakeMed Outpatient Rehab in Raleigh, NC, is hosting free lymphedema screenings with new SOZO technology to celebrate World Lymphedema Day! Aeroflow representatives will be taking the test to learn first hand how quick and easy it is! 

Lymphedema Treatment

There is no lymphedema cure, in most cases, the condition can only be managed, even if lymphedema is caught at an early stage, you still have the risk of redeveloping the condition again later.

Lymphedema treatment generally involves:

  • A lymphedema diet – Creating a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables for nutrients and vitamins while avoiding refined sugar and fatty foods to help maintain a healthy body weight. 
  • Compression stockings help with lymphedema Lymphedema exercises – Light aerobic exercises such as weightlifting or walking to encourage your lymph fluid to drain and to prepare you for daily activities such as carrying groceries or completing office activities.
  • Clothes – Wear comfortable, nonrestrictive clothing that allows space for your extremities to swell.  
  • Compression garments – Compression garments such as compression stockings can help improve your circulation and reduce swelling. It may be covered through insurance!
  • Lymphedema pump – The daily use of a compression pump filled with multiple chambers on the inside to help lymph fluid circulate through your body. You may also qualifiy to receive a pump through insurance! 
  • Lymphatic massage – A self-massage or a massage performed by a clinician to manually drain lymph fluid.
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