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Lymphedema Symptoms

Written by Amy Hall
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Recognizing Lymphedema Symptoms

Lymphedema symptoms are not always blantantly obvious, so patients with lymphedema might not notice anything amiss until an extremity becomes severely swollen. Some symptoms to look for include a full sensation in the arm or leg, with a feeling of the skin being tight. You may also notice decreased flexibility in the affected area, or difficulty fitting into clothing or jewelry feeling tight.

Lymphedema often occurs after breast cancer surgery or other cancer surgeries where the lymph nodes are removed. When lymph nodes are removed, the normal transport of lymph is compromised, causing lymph to become stagnant and build up in certain areas. Lymphedema becomes visibly apparent when the protein-rich fluid (lymph) builds up and causes swelling in an extremity.

Causes of Lymphedema

Lymphedema has either a primary or secondary cause. Secondary causes include surgical procedures and/or radiation therapy in the treatment of breast, gynocological, head, neck, prostate or testicular, bladder, colon cancers or melanomas. Due to treatment, lymph nodes are often removed, which impairs the flow of lymph through the body, causing it to build-up in certain areas and cause swelling.

Primary causes of lymphedema include being born with it for unknown causes or associated with arterial-venous abnormalities. Lymphedema Praecox appears during puberty, mostly in girls, and usually affects one extremity or the other. It is important to recognize the lymphedema symptoms as soon as possible, so that medical attention and therapy can begin immediately to control the swelling and pain.

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