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?
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.