Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What is Lymphedema?

In a previous post we discussed the problem of edema, as well as some tips for relief. Here we'll introduce the condition of lymphedema, a related--but different--condition.

To review briefly, edema is swelling that happens because of the accumulation of excess tissue fluid that had not yet returned to the circulatory system. The excess fluid eventually leaves the area as it heals and the swelling goes down.

Lymphedema, on the other hand, occurs when the lymphatic system is damaged or blocked and protein-rich fluid builds up in soft body tissues causing swelling. Primary lymphedema is caused by the abnormal development of the lymph system, before birth.

Secondary lymphedema, a more common condition, is caused by damage to the lymph system any time after birth, or by the removal of lymph nodes because of injury, trauma, infection of the lymphatics, or cancer biopsy. In fact, lymphedema is a common problem that may be caused by cancer and cancer treatment, although the patient may not notice any swelling until months or years after treatment.           
Lymphedema usually affects the arm or leg, but it can also affect other parts of the body. Swelling ranges from mild, hardly noticeable changes in the size of the arm or leg to extreme swelling that can make it impossible to use the affected limb.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this chronic condition, only treatment and management. 

To learn more about lymphedema--and its close cousin phlebolymphedema--read the cover story in Vein Health News. Just click here to read "Mutually Interdependent: the Venous and Lymphatic Systems."

Monday, November 3, 2014

Treating venous symptoms, naturally

We've discussed alternative options for preventing, treating, and stopping the progression of venous disease before, including a cursory look at several herbal remedies, as well as graduated compression therapy.

In the October 2014 issue of Essential Living Maine magazine, Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen delves further into the use of herbal medications to ease venous symptoms. Just click here and turn to pages 24-25. 

Of course, everyone is different, and those who think they may be at risk of vein disease are urged to obtain an evaluation by a vein specialist to understand their options for treating the underlying cause of their symptoms. It's important to ensure that symptoms are not an indication of a more serious medical condition, such as phlebitis or thrombosis.