Landmark Skybox

Breeze-Courier | Taylorville, IL
The Weather Network
Advanced Search
search sponsored by


LOGIN | SUBSCRIBE






home : columns : ask the doctors September 30, 2020

7/24/2020 4:31:00 PM
Lymphedema causes swelling and requires close monitoring

Dear Doctor: My 36-year-old son has recently been diagnosed with primary lymphedema. He has developed open wounds on both of his legs and is in a lot of pain. The condition limits his movement, and he has become depressed. Can you provide information about treatment, and where to seek it?

Dear Reader: Lymphedema is chronic and progressive swelling that occurs because the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system, isn't working properly.

The lymphatic system is made up of a network of minute, thin-walled tubes known as lymphatic vessels, and by hundreds of lymph nodes, which work together to carry and filter lymph throughout the body. Lymph is a clear fluid, rich in white blood cells, which helps fight infection and transport waste, toxins and debris. If you've ever had a scrape and seen a clear, watery fluid seep out of the wound, that was lymph. Unlike the blood circulatory system, which uses the force of the heartbeat to propel blood, the lymph system is largely dependent on muscle movement to keep things flowing. When either the lymph vessels or the lymph nodes become damaged, lymph begins to back up in that part of the body and causes swelling.

Swelling that arises due to lymphatic injury or obstruction is called secondary lymphedema. It's often seen in cancer patients whose treatment involved the surgical removal of lymph nodes. Swelling that occurs independent of surgery or other damage, as in your son's case, is known as primary lymphedema. It's a rare inherited condition in which the lymphatic vessels are not properly formed and can't carry out their task.

There is no cure for lymphedema at this time. Instead, the focus is on managing the condition. This includes specialized massage to help with drainage, the use of compression garments, light exercise focusing on muscle contraction to encourage lymph movement, limb elevation and pneumatic compression.

An effective treatment approach known as complete decongestive therapy, or CDT, which originated in Europe and Australia, is now becoming popular in the U.S. It combines a number of lymphedema therapies into a comprehensive program that focuses on swelling reduction, maintenance and self-care. Although your son will benefit from lymphedema treatment, your first priority is helping him get appropriate wound care. Due to swelling and skin tension, patients with lymphedema are at high risk of having a nick or a scratch develop into an open wound. If there's a wound clinic in your area, the health care providers there can initiate treatment and teach you and your son how to care for the wounds at home. Your family doctor can help as well.

Lymphedema is a complex and challenging condition, so it's important to seek out someone with expertise in the condition. Most cancer centers and hospital-based cancer programs offer lymphedema support or therapy, and can often provide referrals. Two organizations, the National Lymphedema Network (NLN) and the Lymphology Association of North America (LANA), oversee certification programs for lymphedema therapists. They also offer excellent resources, including directories of therapists. You can find them at lymphnet.org and clt-lana.org.

Eve Glazier, M.D., MBA, is an internist and associate professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Elizabeth Ko, M.D., is an internist and assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Send your questions to askthedoctors@mednet.ucla.edu, or write: Ask the Doctors, c/o UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations, 10880 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1450, Los Angeles, CA, 90024. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.





Article Comment Submission Form
Please feel free to submit your comments.

If you are looking for the SPEAK OUT submission form, you can find it by clicking here: Speak Out Form


Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, who may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it.

NOTE: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number and email address will not be displayed or shared.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   









Trinity Dodge Fixed
NewsWebPagesOpinionPeopleObituariesAg & BusinessSportsContact UsLife
Subscriptions | Username & Password Reminder | Change Password | Life

Breeze-Courier & Printing | 212 S Main St. Taylorville, IL 62568 | (217) 824-2233 |
website@breezecourier.com

© Copyright 2014 Breeze-Courier & Printing. All Rights Reserved.
Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Breeze-Courier & Printing.

Software © 1998-2020 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved