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Lower Extremity Lymphedema

Written by Amy Hall
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Lower Extremity Lymphedema Overview

Lower extremity lymphedema is often the result or complication of post cancer surgery. This can be a debilitating condition that is associated with many different cancers, such as liver, prostate, abdominal, or genital cancer, which can cause swelling in the legs. This swelling can come from any compression or surgical removal of the lymph nodes in the lower section of the body.

The lymph nodes act as filters for our bodies, removing toxins by moving lymph
through our system. The lymph nodes also help us to fight off infections, which obviously presents a problem when they are removed due to cancer surgery. Lymph can become stagnant when the nodes are removed, which can cause very painful swelling in the legs, and sometimes in the genitalia.

Lymphedema Treatment

If you notice swelling in your legs after cancer surgery, you are most likely suffering from lower extremity lymphedema. It is imperative that you take steps to reverse the swelling immediately, because if you wait too long, the process becomes very difficult to reverse. The use of compression stockings is usually the first step in treatment to bring swelling down immediately, and this can be used in conjunction with medication to eliminate water.

You may also receive treatment by a therapist who can perform Manual Lymph Drainage and Complete Decongestive Therapy on you. This involves massage using light strokes to get the lymph moving again, which reduces painful swelling in your extremities. Finally, you will be advised about skin care, exercise and diet, as a total approach to eliminating the swelling associated with lymphedema.

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