Do you have swelling in your arms or legs? Do your limbs feel heavy or difficult to move? Lymphedema is a condition that impedes the movement of lymphatic fluids within the body, potentially causing skin thickening, increased risk of recurrent infections, and even weeping ulcers and wounds. However, a multitude of lymphedema management options are available. Explore treatment options and discover what may be the best fit for you during a consultation with Dr. Shaheen and his team at Shaheen Vascular!
What Is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a specific type of swelling due to blockage in, or scarring of, thin and fragile lymphatic vessels that carry excess non-bloody fluid that pools in the spaces outside of cells, called the extracellular matrix. This network of lymph vessels is called the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is responsible for draining important excess fluids throughout the body to help protect it from bacteria and viruses and process waste products.
With lymphedema, the body is unable to adequately drain lymphatic fluids. This causes arms or legs to become swollen. Limbs may feel heavy or tight, and the range of motion is often limited. There are a variety of causes of lymphedema. It is rarely congenital, meaning an inherited condition. More commonly, it is acquired from such conditions as: varicose veins, surgery, or trauma of any kind (i.e. tick bite, blunt trauma, or cancer treatment radiation). Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we never identify a specific cause for lymphedema.
What Options Are Available for Lymphedema Treatment?
The most common form of lymphedema in the U.S. is lymphedema secondary to an untreated underlying varicose vein problem. However, the abnormal veins may be not visible by the naked eye, thus requiring an ultrasound to rule-in or -out a vein problem as the underlying cause. If a vein problem is identified, lymphedema improves after focused and minimally-invasive treatment.
When vein problems are not contributing to the problem, then lymphedema management is focused on prevention and control of symptoms so that patients can live a normal and enjoyable life. Several therapies are provided in Dr. Shaheen’s office such as Advanced Compression Therapy, Lymphatic Compression Pump Therapy, Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), calf muscle pump exercises. Lastly, while the above mentioned mechanical therapies are the mainstay of treatment, Dr. Shaheen typically adds medical therapies for lymphedema, many of which are natural medical food-based products.
What Are Advanced Compression Therapies?
Compression is at the cornerstone of addressing lymphedema. Advanced compression garments offered in Dr. Shaheen’s office promote proper flow and draining of lymph fluid which are then adequately distributed and processed by the body. During your consultation, you will be properly fitted and have the option to obtain one of our advanced compression garments, offered in several sizes, colors, and styles.
What Is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)?
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a highly specialized type of massage which to mechanically propels proper flow of lymphatic fluids. As the area is massaged, this promotes natural draining of fluids and waste products to be carried to the right areas of the body. Home-use pumps are frequently covered by private insurance and Medicare, and are used in combination with manual lymphatic drainage.
What Are Lymphatic Compression Pump Therapies?
Lymphatic compression pump therapies are becoming an increasingly popular method of lymphedema management. A sleeve is placed over the afflicted extremity. Air pressure is then applied to the sleeve in the comfort of your own home. These are covered by insurance in most cases.
The air pressure creates a massaging action or motion. This redirects the drainage of built-up lymphatic fluids, thus reducing swelling.
Schedule Your Consultation!
Time to take back your everyday life from the challenge of lymphedema! Contact us today at Shaheen Vascular and schedule your consultation to learn more about lymphedema management options! We are the lymphedema experts you have been looking for. Dr. Shaheen is certified by the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine, and proudly serves California with locations in Monterey and Mountain View. Learn how you can reduce swelling and gain back your quality of life today!