Lymphedema (the other name is lymphatic obstruction) is a condition of localized fluid retention and tissue swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system turns the interstitial fluid back to the thoracic duct, that goes to the bloodstream where it is re-circulated back with risk of infection.
The symptoms of the disease include severe fatigue, heavy limb or localized fluid accumulation in several parts of the body.
The skin starts discoloring at lymphedema areas and eventually causes deformation. This is a frequent problem appearing post chemotherapy for most cancer patients.
This illness is regularly be confused with edema which arises from venous insufficiency. This is simply not lymphedema, so it shouldn’t be confused.
However, in some cases, a combined venous/lymphatic disorder can be treated the same way the lymphedema is. The deficient circulation often met at cancer patients can only increase the symptoms of the disease as well as the discomfort.
When lymph is not able to flow through the body because of lymphedema like the way it should be, the bloodstream begins to hunger for the lymph to return.
Lymph nodes are affected and after the chemotherapy for leukemia and lymphoma the symptoms are harsh and abrupt and the lymphedema is extremely severe.
When fluid and plasma leak out the capillaries, they flow around body tissues and cells take up nutrients and oxygen. Some of this leak goes back into the bloodstream. Rest enters the lymph system through tiny lymph vessels.
These lymph vessels pick up lymph and take them to the heart that makes the heart increase its volume. When at least one part of the system is damaged or blocked, the fluid cannot drain from nearby body tissues.
Then the problem begins and the consequences can vary from bad to disastrous. The heart rate increases and for a body which has passed through chemo this situation can be extremely hard.
The lymphedema is treated with different techniques for different degrees of problems throughout the body.
The most common treatment is the combination of direct lymphatic massage and medication set accordingly to post chemo regeneration.
Complex decongestive physiotherapy is an empiric system caused by lymphatic massage, compression garments or bandaging intermittent sequential gradient pumps.
Although this complete treatment can be an ideal option, any of the treatments which are combined together can be used individually.
Lymphedema can be controlled with diligent care of affected limb. Post chemotherapy can be a very exhausting process and the right care and monitoring can reduce the effect and become a sure way into complete remission.