What is Lymphedema?

The lymphatic system plays a vital part in collecting wastes, including bacteria and viruses, using lymph fluid and carrying them to the lymph nodes. The wastes are then filtered and flushed out of the body by the lymphocytes – which are the infection fighting cells present in the lymph nodes.

Lymphedema is a swelling occurring mostly in the arms or legs caused by the abnormal buildup of fluid. It occurs when there is damage to the lymph vessels or lymph nodes. Although it tends to affect only one limb, sometimes both arms and both legs may get swollen.

Primary lymphedema occurs because of the absence or defects in lymph vessels at birth. It is relatively rare and usually affects women.

Secondary lymphedema is caused by a blockage that affects the flow of fluid through the lymphatic system. It can be caused by an infection, surgery, cancer, cancer treatment or deep vein thrombosis. There is no cure for lymphedema and it only be controlled by proper care of the affected limb.