CAPAAR has the Best Oncology Rehabilitation center in Hulimavu, Bangalore.Lymphedema is a condition wherein the arms and legs become swollen because of fluid accumulation. The swelling (edema) is caused when the lymphatic system does not function properly. Lymphedema mostly affects a single arm or leg but in severe cases, both limbs may get swollen.
There are two types of lymphedema: Primary lymphedema is a rare, genetic condition, which is caused by an abnormality of the lymph vessels. Secondary lymphedema is the result of damage to healthy lymph nodes and vessels or some obstruction to their normal functioning.
Causes of Lymphedema
Healthy lymph nodes filter the fluid as it flows through them and they trap bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances. Subsequently, the white blood cells called lymphocytes move in and destroy them. If the lymph nodes are not functioning as they should, normal drainage does not occur and the fluid builds up in the arms or legs, leading to lymphedema.
In certain cancer surgeries, cancerous lymph nodes are removed, which process may hinder the proper functioning of the remaining nodes and lead to lymphedema. Certain medicines, radiation therapy and other injuries to the lymph vessels can also cause lymphedema.
When the condition is caused by the above, it is an example of secondary lymphedema. The cause of primary lymphedema is not known but it can be present at birth or appear during puberty or even adulthood.
Symptoms of Lymphedema
Swelling of the limbs is a sign of lymphedema. The swelling can occur in one or both arms and legs depending on the extent of localization of damage. This is true for both primary and secondary lymphedema. The swelling may be slightly noticeable, mildly debilitating or severe. Lymphedema may first become apparent as an asymmetry of the arms and legs. One may also have difficulty fitting into clothes and jewelry. In lymphatic filariasis, a limb may swell several times its normal size.
If the swelling becomes too pronounced, the extra weight may lead to fatigue, a disfiguration, and restriction of routine activities. The skin of the affected area also thickens; the lumpy appearance is normally described as the ‘orange peel; effect. The skin can also become scaly or cracked and get infected. There may be soreness in the swollen areas with the resultant loss of flexibility or mobility. Other symptoms, which can accompany the swelling include:
- Warmth, redness, or itching
- Tingling or burning pains
- Fever and chills
- Decreased flexibility in the joints
- Aching, pain, and fullness of the involved area
- Skin rash
Physiotherapy for Lymphedema
The physical therapy for lymphedema targets the blockage in the lymph nodes that obstruct their proper drainage. Physiotherapy for lymphedema consists of massage of the affected areas, manual drainage of the accumulated lymph fluid and treatment with compression garments. Elevation and therapy with air-compressed bladders are also used to return the limbs to their normal size. We are the Best Oncology Rehabilitation center in Hulimavu.CAPAAR will generally give first by a trained physiotherapist and then continued at home by the patient or a caregiver who is trained by our therapists.
Goals of Lymphedema Physical Therapy:
- Increased range of motion/ﬂexibility
- Decreased swelling
- Decreased pain
- Increased strength
- Restore function and improve the quality of life
Lymphedema Physical Therapy Includes:
- One-on-one, hands-on, last 45-75 min in comfortable private treatment rooms
- Soft Tissue Mobilization, lymphatic drainage, scar mobilization
- Modalities, including ultrasound, electrical stimulation
- Therapeutic exercises, including a range of motion, stretching and strengthening
- Patient education to maintain decreased edema, posture re-education, body mechanics, skin care
- Compression bandaging and garments