Feet stretching on ball

The lymphatic system is an essential part of your immune system. It removes excess fluids from your body and filters waste. When this system malfunctions, fluid can build up in the affected area — in some cases, swelling and pain are the results. Because it’s part of your immune system, there are several types of lymphatic-related disorders. One type is called lymphoedema.

No one wants to live with this condition — but, unfortunately, it has a few severe side effects that can make everyday life extremely challenging. Swelling and discolouration of the skin are common symptoms, and fluid leakage increases the risk of infection.

How to diagnose lymphoedema?

The first step in diagnosing lymphoedema is always visiting your GP. They will ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history, perform a physical examination to check the size of your limbs, and may perform a test called a lymphoscintigram. This involves injecting dye into one of your large veins and then using a detector to track the way that the dye travels through your lymphatic system.

Primary and Secondary lymphoedema.

Primary lymphoedema occurs when a genetic fault causes abnormal lymphatic system development, typically developing early in life. The disease has a range of severity, but it almost always causes swelling of the limbs. Although there is no cure, treating the disorder with compression garments is the best way to alleviate the symptoms and minimise their impact on people’s health and their lives.

Secondary lymphoedema is a serious and life-changing condition that emerges during an already vulnerable time in a person’s life. Secondary lymphoedema can happen to anyone, at any point throughout their life, because of weight gain, injured lymphatic systems, surgery or cancer treatment.

What are the available treatments?

  • Compression – Usually, this begins with bandages and velcro wraps in the early stages to help control the disease. Once your condition is under better management, you can use compression stockings, tights or elastic garments. 
  • Movement — Our body’s lymphatic system doesn’t pump itself! It needs regular activity, including deep breathing, stretching, and exercising to pump fluid around our bodies. Furthermore, swimming is an excellent choice of exercise because it provides external compression from water as well as internal muscle movement. 
  • Protect yourself from harmful germs and bacteria with the right skincare products in every step of your day. Wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, or when you sneeze — especially when you’re around children — to reduce the spread of germs. Exfoliate regularly to remove dead skin cells and reveal new, healthy ones. Moisturize your face daily to prevent dryness and flaking.
  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage – MLD is a type of massage that helps drain body fluids, especially lymph, which can build up in the body and elevate your risk of infection and disease. MLD has been shown to assist in the removal of toxins, viruses, bacteria, cancer cells and excess fluid. 
  • Lymphatic massage is the gentle but comprehensive stimulation of the lymphatic system using coordinated movement and breath.of which are essential to our body’s overall health. 
  • Lymphoedema occurs when your lymphatic system is damaged and doesn’t drain fluid from your limbs properly. Though the disease is incurable, you can access treatments to help you manage the disease. With some simple lifestyle changes — including a healthy diet, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight — you’ll be able to live a full life with lymphoedema. If you feel you could be suffering from lymphoedema, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with your GP, and if you are having any foot related issues, we will be happy to help. You can book an appointment online, or give us a call.