Lymphedema is a condition many people have heard about but might not always take seriously at first. They see it as swelling, which everyone has experienced at one point in their lives due to bug bites, allergic reactions, and even injury. While this is true to a point, any swelling in the legs and other extremities that doesn’t go away, is unexplainable, or isn’t responding to traditional treatments could be a sign of something more serious and shouldn’t be ignored. If you suspect you may have it, you may even wonder “What’s the best lymphedema treatment?”
Taking ownership of your health is important. While your swelling may seem like nothing to worry about at first, lymphedema is a chronic condition caused by problems within your lymphatic system, a vital part of the immune system. The rapidly changing symptoms associated with it can affect your quality of life if left unchecked.
Are You Experiencing Any of These Symptoms?
- Swelling in the legs, arm, chest, shoulder, etc.
- Changes in the texture of the skin
- Skin discoloration
- Extremities may feel full or heavy
- Aching, tingling, or numbness
- Infected open wounds
- Limited mobility in nearby joints
Concerned over whether your leg swelling is due to lymphedema? Our experts can assess your situation and provide treatment options. Call 214-285-9200. Appointment
What Is Lymphedema Exactly?
Lymphedema is a buildup of lymph fluid in the fatty tissues just under your skin. When working properly, your lymphatic system—a network of lymph nodes, ducts or vessels, and organs—carry this fluid through the body tissues to the blood. But when this system is damaged, this lymph fluid can’t properly drain and starts collecting, thus causing the body to swell and skin and tissue changes to occur. The Lymphatic Education & Research Network states that up to 10 million Americans suffer from lymphedema and lymphatic diseases, adding that more people suffer from these diseases than Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and AIDS combined.
There are two types of lymphedema. Primary lymphedema, an inherited or congenital condition that causes a malformation of the lymphatic system, is rare and only affects 1 in 100,000 individuals. Secondary lymphedema, however, affects approximately 1 in 1000 Americans and can be caused by:
- Cancer or cancer treatment/surgery — Sometimes, a tumor can grow and block the lymph system. Surgery that removes lymph nodes or some of the vessels that carry lymph fluid can lead to fluid buildup.
- Radiation therapy — Lymph nodes and vessels are often damaged, blocked, or scarred as a result of ongoing radiation treatment. This can happen immediately after radiation therapy or months and years later.
- Infections — Any infection that damages surrounding tissues and causes scarring could lead to lymphedema.
- Other health conditions — Several health conditions that can lead to lymphedema include heart and vascular disease, arthritis, and eczema.
- Injury or trauma — In some cases, lymphedema can occur after severe injuries such as a car accident that results in extensive bruising or soft tissue loss.
- Immobility — The more you move, the better chance your body has to drain excess fluid. Individuals who are bedridden because of illness or injury, and those with an extreme sedentary lifestyle, are at risk of lymphedema.
Are There Stages to Lymphedema?
Yes. As previously mentioned, many people with lymphedema don’t realize they have anything to worry about at first since the symptoms are very subtle. But if truly lymphedema, odds are high that this condition will only get worse with time. The American Cancer Society (ACS) published the following list to help describe lymphedema by its stage:
- Stage 0 — A patient may not have any swelling, though their extremities can feel heavy or full.
- Stage 1 — Signs of swelling exist, including stiffness in the affected area.
- Stage 2 — Swelling is worse at this stage and does not improve when the arm or leg is elevated. The affected area is typically hard and larger in size than Stage 1.
- Stage 3 — Swelling can become severe enough where the patient can’t lift or move their extremity without using the other arm. Fluid leakage is possible, as is the possibility of blisters forming.
The earlier stages of lymphedema can be treated and are reversible according to the ACS. The later stages (2 and 3) tend not to respond well to treatment and may lead to more serious intervention.
A patient who is experiencing lymphedema or wishes to avoid the condition before it happens can help their cause by exercising regularly, wearing compression sleeves or stockings, and losing weight. If these tactics don’t work, or the condition has reached a point where it is too severe, there are treatment options available.
Looking for expert lymphedema treatment? Call 214-285-9200 or request an appointment for specialists that can help! Appointment
What Are the Best Treatments for Lymphedema?
StrideWoundCare’s expert medical team offers four different treatments for lymphedema:
- Multilayer compression therapy — Noninvasive therapy that helps support damaged or aging veins by decreasing lymphedema or swelling in the legs and promoting overall healthy circulation.
- Specialized dressings and therapies — These are dressings tailored to your body, wound, and conditions.
- Incision and drainage — These treatments are safe and effective procedures that are done to relieve fluid buildup in an abscess or swollen and infected patch of skin.
- Minimally invasive and microsurgery — This allows patients to get the results they desire without having to undergo the extensive downtime and recovery period associated with invasive procedures.
The cost of your lymphedema treatment will vary depending on the type of treatment you receive, the extent of treatment needed to achieve your desired results, and your health insurance coverage. StrideWoundCare is also happy to offer financing options through CareCredit® that allow you to pay for your treatments at your convenience.
StrideWoundCare Offers Safe and Effective Lymphedema Treatment
At StrideWoundCare we understand how frustrating, time consuming, and costly it can be to take care of wounds and treat conditions such as lymphedema that don’t respond to traditional treatment options. Our wound care team has specialized training to manage and assess wounds of all types including lymphedema. We offer easy access to our wound care services, including outpatient locations throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.
As a partner in your care, we will work together with your other doctors and healthcare providers. In addition to providing excellent wound care and management, our nurses will teach you how to care for your wound in between visits to promote healing and protect it from further injury.
When you use our wound care services, you receive compassionate experts dedicated to helping you with your difficult wound. We create a treatment plan that meets your individual needs while keeping you involved in the process. For a consultation with one of our experts, please contact us at 214-285-9200 or complete the appointment form.Appointment
This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Prior to starting any new treatment or questions regarding a medical condition, always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider.
StrideWoundCare serves the D/FW area including Richardson, Garland, Highland Park, University Park, Park Cities, Plano, Frisco, Allen, McKinney, Irving, Grand Prairie, Denton, Flower Mound, Sherman, Dennison, HEB, Hutchins, Duncanville, DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Lancaster, Cockrell Hill, Dallas, Mesquite, Lewisville, Craig Ranch, Arlington, Fort Worth, Addison, Carrollton, and all North Texas.