Lymphoedema (lymphedema) treatment: what patients want to know


1.What is the main cause of lymphoedema?

There are two types of lymphoedema, primary (congenital) and secondary  and their main causes are:

  • Congenital lymphedema: present at birth, an it is called primary lymphoedema
  • Cancer: Tumors can block lymphatic pathways or lymph nodes, causing fluid accumulation.
  • Some infections can lead to lymphatic damage.
  • Surgery : Removal or damage to lymph nodes or vessels during cancer surgeries
  • Genetics: Some patients are born with lymphatic system abnormalities.
  • Radiotherapy: Radiation can damage lymph nodes and vessels, leading to scarring and obstruction.
  • Accident or  trauma: Severe injuries or burns can damage the lymphatic system.
  • Inflammatory response: Can lead to lymphatic dysfunction.
  • Problems with the endocrine system 
  • Dependency or immobility: Lack of movement can hinder lymphatic flow.
  • Obesity: Excessive body weight can obstruct lymphatic drainage and increase the risk of lymphedema.
  • Venous related: Poor vein function can lead to increased lymphatic pressure and overload.

2. What are the types of lymphoedema?

  • Primary lymphoedema:

Genetic alteration (mutation) responsible for malformations in the development of your lymphatic system. As a result, it cannot work properly (drain by itself, etc.) This often runs in families.

  • Secondary lymphoedema:

It refers to the damage or  blockage in your lymphatic system, caused by surgery to remove lymph nodes, such as for cancer treatment or severe trauma.

3.What is the life expectancy of a person with lymphoedema?

  • It is important for you to know that lymphoedema is a long term condition (chronic), but your life is not shortened by it. Just follow your GP ́s instructions, continue with your regular treatment and be persistent with your Lymphatic Drainage treatment and your quality of life will be improved. 
  • Lymphedema is a chronic condition that requires lifelong management, but it is not a life-threatening condition. 

The prognosis and life expectancy for most people with lymphedema depends on several factors:

  • Early detection and intervention . Timely diagnosis and treatment can help control symptoms and prevent complications.
  • Underlying cause. Prognosis may differ for primary lymphedema (genetic) versus secondary lymphedema (caused by cancer treatment, trauma, etc.).
  • Management of the condition. Proper self-care, complete decongestive therapy with Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), and following your GP´s instructions will maintain and even improve your life quality.

Appropriate management makes patients with lymphedema be able to live full and active lives without significant progression of the condition. The key is early intervention and diligent self-care to control symptoms and prevent complications.

Note: Patients at risk of life threatening issues are those with advanced lymphedema that has progressed to lymphangiosarcoma (a soft tissue type of cancer). However, this is a rare complication that occurs in quite a few cases. No not worry, just talk to your oncologist to get a tailored treatment according to your needs.

4. Can lymphoedema be cured?

Lymphoedema is a Chronic condition, but it is not life threatening. There is no cure for lymphoedema, but it is possible to control the main symptoms using techniques (like lymphatic drainage massage) to minimize fluid build-up and stimulate the flow of fluid through the lymphatic system and compression therapy . The treatment focuses on reducing the swelling, preventing complications and improving your general well being.

5. What are the warning signs of lymphoedema?

Warning signs or symptoms of lymphoedema are:

Main symptoms of lymphoedema are:

  • Swelling (in part of a limb or the entire one, also in another part of the body).
  • A feeling of heaviness or tightness
  • An aching feeling
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Recurring skin infections
  • Hardening and thickening of the skin (fibrosis)
  • folds developing in the skin
  • fluid leaking through the skin

Take into account that signs (symptoms) of lymphoedema can range from mild to severe. If  Lymphoedema is  caused by cancer treatment, it may not occur until months or years after your treatment.

6. What is the most effective treatment for lymphoedema?

The most effective treatment for lymphedema is a combination of  MLD  and compression therapy and it puts together different techniques in order to reduce swelling and improve your life quality.

  • Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is a highly effective, non-invasive treatment for both primary and secondary lymphedema. Its main purpose is to reduce limb volume and maintain those improvements over time.
  • CDT involves a combination of techniques including: MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) to drain accumulated fluid out of the affected limb.
  • Studies show that an average of 59-68% volume of lymphoedema is reduced  with CDT, and these improvements are maintained in the majority of patients over long-term follow-up (9 approx.).
  • In the case of  advanced stage lymphedema, experts may consider surgical options like lymph node transfer or liposuction; however, CDT remains the primary recommended treatment.

7. How do I get rid of lymphoedema in my legs?

Following your Decongestive treatment which is based on MLD techniques , the use of compression garments and changes in 

your lifestyle (nutrition and exercise). If lymphoedema can be treated if it is in early stage. Remember this is a chronic condition. 

8. Does lymphoedema go away?

Lymphoedema is a chronic condition, it will not go away, but swelling and other symptoms can be reduced with  Manual Lymphatic Drainage and following your GP´s instructions. In addition, your general well being will be improved.

9. How do you reverse lymphoedema naturally?

Lymphedema as a chronic condition needs a holistic treatment where you are the main protagonist. In other words, your health is in your hands, the more you look after yourself, the better your quality of life will be. Here are some effective natural ways to help manage lymphedema symptoms and even reduce swelling:

  • Get regular lymphatic drainage massage therapy from a certified lymphedema therapist, She can teach you self-massage techniques as well.
  • Do moderate aerobic exercise like walking or swimming regularly to help move lymph fluid and reduce inflammation. Start slowly and gradually increase intensity under the guidance of your lymphedema therapist.
  • Keep your skin clean, moisturized and protected to prevent infections. Use gentle, natural products and avoid hot water.
  • Wear sunscreen, gloves when gardening, and keep feet clean and dry to protect skin.
  • Wear compression garments (if directed by your GP) to help move fluid and prevent inflammation.
  • Elevate the affected limb above heart level when possible to improve drainage.
  • Drink plenty of water to maintain fluid balance
  • Limit or avoid alcohol, caffeine, diuretics, and beverages high in sodium which can contribute to dehydration and swelling.
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats to provide nutrients that support lymphatic function.
  • Reduce or avoid the consumption of processed foods, added sugars, refined carbs, and high-sodium items which can increase inflammation.

We hope this information was useful. If you need advice or have any questions about our treatments, please contact us. You can find us in Mill Hill and Islington. We are always glad to help. If you like this blog, please share!



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

xxx hd