Lymphedema is a condition of localized fluid retention and tissue swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system. The lymphatic system returns the interstitial fluid to the thoracic duct and then to the bloodstream, where it is recirculated back to the tissues. Tissues with lymphedema are at risk of infection. Symptoms may include a feeling of heaviness or fullness, edema (swelling), and aching pain in the affected area. Treatment of lymphedema varies depending on the severity of the edema and the degree of fibrosis of the affected limb. Most people with lymphedema follow a daily regimen of treatment as suggested by their physician of certified lymphedema therapist. The most common treatments are a combination of manual compression lymphatic massage, compression garments or bandaging.
There are also contra-indications to compression therapy and these include:
- Advanced arterial occlusive disease
- Severe disorders of heart function
- Weeping skin diseases
- Severe disorders of nerve function in the arms and legs