Lymphedema is a medical condition which occurs due to a faulty lymphatic system and eventually leads to excessive lymph fluid build-up in the tissues of the body. It affects the extremities of the body and usually causes one or more of the limbs (arms or legs) to swell up.
In most cases, excessive swelling in the arms and legs is accompanied by severe pain that makes it difficult for the person to move the affected limbs. In addition to this, the malfunctioning lymphatic system also makes the person extremely prone to infections such as cellulitis.
Lymphedema is classified into two major types. Primary or hereditary lymphedema is a genetic condition that occurs to children who are born with damaged or missing lymph nodes. Secondary lymphedema is usually experienced after a medical procedure such as surgery or radiotherapy sessions that damages one or more lymph nodes.
Secondary lymphedema is prevalent in cancer-survivors, as many as 40% of those who undergo surgery for breast cancer are known to suffer from secondary lymphedema. This is because cancer surgery usually involves a sentinel lymph node biopsy.
Another common cause of secondary lymphedema is an infection called lymphedema filariasis. It is caused by the Wuchereria bancrofti roundworm and is known to have affected over 15 million people across the World. As per verified reports from WHO, this infection is also the leading cause of disability.
As lymphedema patients suffer from a poor immune system, they are usually prone to a number of chronic illness. Apart from this, numerous health complications can crop up in cases of delay in understanding the symptoms or a lack of a timely treatment for lymphedema. As it becomes extremely difficult for lymphedema patients to move their limbs, it has a derogatory effect on their lifestyle as well.
Below mentioned are some of the most common complications of lymphedema:
- A large number of lymphedema patients complain of recurring attacks of skin infections such as cellulitis and lymphangitis.
- For patients who have lymphedema wounds that drain, scars on the affected limbs are a common sight as the lymph fluid is highly acidic.
- Excessive fluid accumulation causes high pressure on the nerves and leads to extreme pain. Some patients may also lose their muscle tissues and that is also a cause of continuous pain.
- Loss of mobility is common as patients find it difficult to move their swollen limbs. A few patients may also have to encounter disfigurement.
- Stress and depression is also another common consequence of lymphedema. As most people find it difficult to cope with the swelling and pain, it affects their overall lifestyle and is termed as a serious complication of lymphedema.
- In some critical cases, the lymphedema infection is known to lead to gangrene and spread to extents that it becomes necessary for the doctors to amputate the patient’s affected limb.
- The lymphedema swelling may also lead to blood clotting or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in some patients. This may also occur due to cellulitis or lymphangitis.
- Skin-related health issues such as cracked skin or plaque are also common for lymphedema patients. They are prone to a large number of other bacterial infections as well.
- Those suffering from primary or hereditary lymphedema are at a higher risk of contracting lymphoma which is the cancer of the lymph glands.
- Another form of cancers such as angiosarcoma (cancer that forms on the lining of the blood vessels of lymph vessels) and lymphangiosarcoma have also been seen in lymphedema patients.
For lymphedema patients, there is a vicious cycle that occurs with the recurring attacks of infections. These infections lower the patient’s immunity and make the person even more prone to similar attacks and infections.
As lymphedema patients are at a greater likelihood of contracting infections, they must seek immediate medical assistance in any such condition. Even a small cut or crack on the skin of a lymphedema patient can lead to extreme inflammation and/or infection and this can easily travel to the lymphatic system.
For lymphedema patients, as their skin is the entry point for infections, they must take additional care to prevent any form on injury to the skin. They must handle all sharp and pointed items carefully and avoid getting hurt. All persons suffering from lymphedema must also take extreme care of their skin hygiene thereby preventing it from getting dry and flaky.
Lymphedema is a life-long health issue as the medical practitioners are yet to find a permanent cure for it. But the good news is that with the right medical assistance, all symptoms and side-effects of lymphedema can be treated and controlled to a greater extent.
The most important aspect of treating lymphedema is understanding its early signs, detecting the symptoms, and seeking medical assistance as soon as possible. This way the doctors will be able to focus on remedies. You will get immense relief from the symptoms and be able to lead a normal life by performing everyday activities on your own.
A poorly managed chronic lymphedema can lead to extreme symptoms whereas timely treatment can assure the swelling and pain get reduced fairly quickly.
If you have undergone a surgical procedure recently or got hurt somewhere and are noticing swelling in your limbs which is accompanied by pain, you must visit a specialist promptly. Avis Vascular Centre is a distinguished medical institute in Hyderabad that helps you manage the symptoms of lymphedema in an efficient way.
Whether you have extreme swelling or severe pain in your arms or legs, Dr. Rajah V Koppala at Avis Vascular Centre can help you get immediate relief. He has 24+ years of experience and is renowned for his medical practice all across India. Dr. Rajah V Koppala ensures that all his patients are offered the most genuine treatment and have a hassle-free medical experience at Avis Vascular Centre.
Even if you reside outside of Hyderabad, you can get treated by Dr. Rajah V Koppala as the outstation care team at Avis Vascular Centre manages everything including the doctor appointments, travel bookings, and hotel accommodations for the non-local patients. We also have tied-up with all leading national insurance providers and make sure that our patients do not have any difficulties in the processing of their Mediclaim requests.
Do not wait any longer, the sooner you seek treatment for lymphedema, the easier it is to control the symptoms. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Rajah V Koppala at Avis Vascular Centre today!