What Is Lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is a long-term (chronic) condition where lymphatic fluid collects in the tissues, causing a  swelling. The swelling maybe caused by the absence of lymph vessels, damage or obstruction of the lymphatic system or because the lymphatic system is overloaded.

What Is Lymphoedema?

The lymphatic system runs throughout your body in parallel to your venous system. It is part of your immune system and helps your body  fight against infection. It drains and purifies excess fluids and balances the amount of fluids circulating in your body. It works similar to a waste disposal system; taking excess tissue fluid, bacteria, proteins, and waste products away from the tissues and back into the bloodstream.

When the lymphatic system does not work properly, it is unable to drain the lymphatic fluid sufficiently. This leads to a collection of fluid in the affected area which causes swelling. Learn more about how the lymphatic system works and about the different types of lymphoedema.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Lymphoedema?

  • Swelling in your arms and legs, or other parts of the body
  • A feeling of heaviness or tightness
  • Aching or discomfort
  • Skin changes
  • Less mobility and range of motion
  • Clothing and jewellery (especially rings and bracelets) may feel much tighter than usual

Lymphoedema is a condition with no known cure, but there is hope and there are ways you can help yourself to improve and relieve your symptoms. It is important that you understand your condition, and recognise the signs and symptoms. If left untreated, the symptoms of lymphoedema can become worse over time. Therefore, early treatment is essential to manage your lymphoedema effectively.

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Living with lymphoedema or lipoedema can raise new questions every day. Who can answer them better than someone in a similar situation? Join our private community to exchange experiences and stories with other patients.
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