Have you noticed swelling in one or both of your legs? Also known as peripheral edema, leg swelling is a common occurrence that can develop for a variety of reasons. One of the most frequent causes of swelling in the legs is lymphedema, a condition that involves the blockage of one or more lymph nodes.
Lymphedema can be treated in several different ways, including compression therapy and manual massage. At Shaheen Vascular, we offer a variety of lymphedema treatments that can reduce leg swelling. To find out more about lymphedema and when to have swelling in your legs assessed, continue reading.
What Is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is a condition that results in swelling of the arms and legs. It occurs when there is a blockage in the lymphatic system, preventing lymph fluid from flowing properly. The lymphatic fluid then builds up within the limb and causes it to swell.
Lymphedema can also occur in the chest wall, abdomen, neck, and genitals, but it most often causes leg swelling. However, lymphedema presents with additional symptoms on top of swelling. This includes:
- Heavy sensation in the legs
- Pain when standing for long periods
- Difficulty walking
- Increased frequency of infections
- Hardening and thickening of the skin
- Inability to move the affected limb
These symptoms can also be attributed to a number of other medical conditions that are very different from lymphedema. If you experience any combination of these issues, you should always have your symptoms evaluated by a medical provider.
Causes of Lymphedema
What is it that causes lymph node blockages and lymphedema? A lymph node can become blocked for a number of different reasons, including the following:
- Radiation treatment
- Parasitic infections
In some cases, lymphedema is an inherited condition. Some families carry a gene that makes them more likely to experience lymph node blockages without any identifiable reason.
Types of Lymphedema Treatment
Leg swelling from lymphedema can be addressed in a variety of ways. Three types of lymphedema management are advanced compression therapy, manual lymphatic drainage, and lymphatic compression pump therapy.
Advanced Compression Therapy
One of the most effective ways to approach lymphedema is through compression. Advanced compression garments can be worn to promote the proper flow and drainage of lymphatic fluid. This can help distribute your lymph fluid more evenly through the affected limb, reducing swelling. With advanced compression therapy, we will take measurements of the affected area to provide custom-fitted compression garments for your lymphedema.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage
Another form of lymphedema therapy is manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). Manual lymphatic drainage is a special method of massage that uses manual pressure to mechanically propel the regular flow of lymph fluid.
When specific areas are massaged, it encourages natural draining from the lymph nodes to remove waste products and circulate fluid adequately. Manual lymphatic drainage is often used in conjunction with compression pump therapy.
Lymphatic Compression Pump Therapy
Lymphatic compression pumps are an innovative way of treating lymphedema. When getting swollen limb treatment with a compression pump, a sleeve is placed over the affected limb, and air pressure is applied to the sleeve to produce a gentle squeezing effect.
This produces a massaging action that can redirect drainage and buildup of lymphatic fluid. Lymphatic drainage pumps can be used in the comfort of your own home, and most pumps are covered by health insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lymphedema Management
Are you still curious about lymphedema or the causes of swollen legs? Below are some of the most common questions that people have about lymphedema treatment and swelling in the extremities:
When Should I Have My Swollen Legs Checked?
While leg swelling may be a common occurrence, it is always indicative of an underlying medical concern. This is why all cases of leg swelling should be evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible. Many cases of leg swelling are caused by lymphedema, but some cases can be due to serious conditions like blood clots or heart failure.
What Is Lymphedema Treatment Like?
If you are worried about how extensive lymphedema treatment is, rest assured that your therapy will be simple and non-invasive. Most lymphedema treatments use a non-surgical approach that focuses on promoting natural lymph drainage and regular movement of your lymphatic fluid. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove or reduce the blockage of your lymph node.
How Can I Avoid Causes of Lymphedema?
Some causes of lymphedema cannot be avoided, such as cancer or radiation therapy. Other causes of lymphedema can be avoided if you follow a healthy lifestyle. Lymphedema that is caused by obesity can be resolved through natural weight loss or with weight loss procedures like liposuction. To prevent lymphedema from returning, you should follow a healthy diet and exercise routine that will help you stay at an optimal weight.
Will I Need Lymphedema Management Forever?
Depending on the underlying cause of your lymphedema, you may need long-term treatment. If the cause of your blocked lymph node cannot be permanently resolved, you will need to have ongoing methods of lymphedema management. Your provider will work with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your specific needs.
Swollen Limb Treatment in Mountain View, CA
Do you have lymphedema in your legs that cause pain, difficulty moving, or other symptoms? At Shaheen Vascular, we offer lymphedema treatment for patients throughout Mountain View, CA, and in surrounding cities.
Our team of experts will work with you to address your concerns. To learn more about our innovative lymphedema therapy, schedule a consultation appointment today.