Lymphedema can be debilitating if left untreated. This condition, characterized by swollen limbs and fluid buildup, is annoying at best and limiting at worst. At Shaheen Vascular in Mountain View, CA, we offer swollen limb treatments through lymphedema therapy. We help you manage this condition without stopping your life.
Seek relief with us if you’re near Mountain View, CA. Here’s how lymphedema works and how you can prevent it from developing or worsening.
What Is Lymphedema? Your Questions Answered
You may have seen extreme swelling in someone’s lower limbs before. But what causes it? What is lymphedema? Lymphedema causes your limbs to swell due to a buildup of lymphatic fluid. In order to understand how lymphatic fluid builds up over time, we must understand its purpose in your body.
The Roles of Lymphatic Fluid in Your Body
Lymphatic fluid is made up of all of the extra fluids in your body that don’t contain blood. These fluids usually contain waste materials from cells and tissues.
Your lymphatic system is part of your immune system. While it does remove waste materials from cells and tissues, it also helps you maintain healthy fluid levels and absorb nutrients from food.
Lymphatic Fluid Buildup and Swelling
In order for your body to detoxify itself daily, you must have proper lymphatic drainage. Lymphedema prevents healthy fluid drainage due to problems with your lymphatic vessels.
Your lymphatic vessels are similar to blood vessels — they drain fluids that your body no longer uses or needs. When these vessels become blocked, scarred, or otherwise disfigured, lymphatic fluid builds up. This is the cause of lymphedema: poor drainage in your lymphatic vessels.
Root Causes of Lymphedema
So what causes this condition in the first place? Can anyone develop lymphedema? Here are the most understood and well-researched causes of lymphedema.
Patients who are very overweight or obese are more susceptible to developing lymphedema. This is because excess body fat puts pressure on the lymphatic network in your body.
When fat is pushing against your lymphatic vessels, they struggle to drain fluids properly and may become damaged. Healthy weight loss can help with lymphedema management in some cases.
If you don’t regularly get cardiovascular exercise through walking, running, or other activities, you’re more prone to lymphedema. Physical activity boosts the circulation of lymphatic fluids throughout your body. Patients with sedentary and otherwise inactive lifestyles are at higher risk for developing this condition.
Certain types of surgery can lead to lymphedema if lymphatic vessels are damaged in some way. This is an accidental complication, and most physicians don’t know it has happened until a patient presents with lymphedema symptoms.
Heart and Kidney Problems
Your heart and your kidneys are responsible for regulating blood and fluid levels in your body. When either of these important organs has complications, lymphatic drainage is negatively affected.
Untreated Varicose Veins
Many patients who come in with lymphedema symptoms have a common underlying problem: varicose veins. Varicose veins don’t function properly and have a hard time recirculating blood back to your heart.
If you don’t know you have a varicose vein problem, it makes sense that you haven’t treated it yet. We assess every patient for varicose veins to address the underlying causes of lymphedema.
Lymphedema Prevention Is Key
While there are ways to manage lymphedema, it’s important to prevent this condition from occurring in the first place. Once your lymphatic vessels have been damaged, it’s difficult or impossible to restore their proper functions entirely.
Lymphedema does not have a known cure, so you should take every step toward lymphedema prevention when possible. Some lymphedema prevention strategies include:
- Moving your body often
- Managing your weight
- Avoiding extreme heat
- Keeping swollen body parts elevated
- Getting regular medical checkups
- Monitoring your body for signs of swelling and fluid buildup
- Taking care of your heart health
- Drinking plenty of water (kidney health)
If you follow these steps, you are less likely to develop lymphedema.
Lymphedema Therapy: Managing Your Condition
While lymphedema has no cure yet, there are lymphedema management techniques we use to help patients live comfortable lives. Some of these techniques can be done at home after your appointments with us.
Advanced Compression Therapy
One type of lymphedema therapy is advanced compression therapy. We give you special compression garments that aid your body in draining lymphatic fluids properly.
Our compression garments are designed a bit differently from normal garments. We fit them according to your body shape and size, and you can customize their appearance, too.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage
Manual lymphatic drainage is a form of lymphatic massage that stimulates lymphatic drainage in your tissues. Many patients use manual lymphatic drainage techniques at home to keep fluids from building up in between appointments.
Lymphatic Compression Pump Therapy
Much like lymphatic massage, lymphatic compression pumps physically move your lymphatic fluids to encourage drainage. You place the sleeve over the affected area on your body, and the pump delivers air pressure to the area.
When this happens, your body starts moving lymphatic fluid around as it should. Patients appreciate that lymphatic compression pump therapy is usually covered by most forms of health insurance.
Natural Health Solutions
We focus on natural, health-boosting lymphedema treatment at our office. We encourage patients to control their conditions through a healthy diet and lifestyle changes. This way, you can improve your health for life.