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National Lymphedema Network

Written by Amy Hall
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The National Lymphedema Network (NLN)

The National Lymphedema Network is an internationally recognized non-profit organization founded in 1988 by Saskia R.J. Thiadens, R.N. to provide education and guidance to lymphedema patients, health care professionals, and the general public. It provides information on the prevention and management of primary and secondary lymphedema. This organization is supported by tax-deductible donations and is a driving force behind the movement in the United States to standardize quality treatment for lymphedema patients across the nation.

NLN also supports research of lymphedema, which includes examining the causes and possible alternative treatments for this debilitating condition. The National Lymphedema Network provides a toll-free support hotline (1-800-541-3259), as well as a referral service to lymphedema treatment centers and health care professionals. They also have a quarterly newsletter with information regarding medical and scientific developments, support groups, and an updated resource guide.

Diagnostic Signs

Lymphedema is the accumulation of excessive lymph fluid and swelling of subcutaneous tissues due to obstruction, destruction, or hypoplasia (underdevelopment) of lymph vessels. This disease occurs more often in women, but can affect men as well. It is important to recognize lymphedema symptoms so that you can seek treatment immediately.

If you feel painless edema (swelling) of one or both lower extremities, or in the arms, call your doctor right away. If your clothing or jewelry feels tight or you have a feeling of tightness in the skin, you could be developing lymphedema. Finally, a feeling of heaviness in the affected arm, with or without swelling, should be brought to the attention of your doctor as soon as possible.


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