What Is Lymphoedema?

Who develops it and why?

Lymphoedema is a chronic, progressive swelling of the tissues with protein-rich fluid, when the normal lymphatic flow may be impaired. This may be as a possible consequence of any trauma, infection, radiation or surgery that disrupts the lymphatic channels or results in the loss of lymph nodes. . It most commonly affects the arms or legs, but can also occur in the chest wall, abdomen, neck , face and genitals ,is known as acquired or secondary lymphoedema and typically presents with painless unilateral limb swelling

The earlier lymphoedema is diagnosed the more can be done to slow or even prevent its progression.

Primary lymphoedema will present with swelling when there is a congenital malfunction or defect or deficiency of the lymph transporting system vessels or nodes during foetal development. This may be evident from birth or may indeed present in the teen years or even later, and is usually triggered by physical trauma or infection.

Chronic oedema

Chronic oedema is a progressive and debilitating long-term condition that requires effective management. It can have a detrimental and profound effect on people’s quality of life, health and their ability to engage in normal daily activities, as swelling impedes movement and is painful (Moffatt et al, 2017). In every case of chronic oedema there will be some impairment of lymphatic drainage as a result of the capacity of the lymphatics being overloaded.