Lymphoedema can occur in any part of the body but most often affects the arms or legs. Lymphoedema occurs when the body’s lymphatic system is not working efficiently and the fluid is unable to drain from one or more areas of the body.
The swelling may be slight or large and it can cause problems e.g. skin changes, changes in sensation, loss of function, feelings of distress. There is no cure for lymphoedema because the damage to the lymphatic system cannot be repaired - but it can be controlled. It is possible to move fluid from the swollen area to an area where the lymphatic system is working properly. The fluid can then be drained away as normal.
There are 4 elements of treatment, all of equal importance: skin care, exercise, compression therapy (bandages or hosiery) and or Simple Lymphatic Drainage (a special type of massage). A key element of successful Lymphoedema treatment is the development of treatment plans that patients and their families can concord with and that requires us to work in partnership, we have found this to provide the most successful outcomes.
This leaflet includes information on what Lymphoedema is, how it may occur, ways that it may be treated and, if you have Lymphoedema, some things you can do to help the condition.