Lymphedema

Symptoms & Causes

I think I have a problem involving my lymphatic system, but how do I know for sure?

1) If you’ve had treatment for cancer and

  • I had surgery during my cancer treatment.
  • I had lymph nodes removed during my cancer treatment.
  • I had radiation therapy during my cancer treatment.
  • I have reduced mobility in the limb close to the area that was treated for cancer (e.g. reduced mobility in the shoulder joint after breast cancer treatment).
  • I feel like something is wrong, even though I can’t really see any physical swelling.
  • I feel a heaviness, tightness, pressure or other unusual sensation.
  • My rings/watch/shoes feel tighter than usual.
  • My favourite item of clothing doesn’t seem to fit quite right on the effected side of my body.
  • I have visible swelling in the affected area or the limb closest to it.
  • I am more prone to infections than usual.
  • I have experienced a cellulitis infection.

If you answered yes to one or more of the above, you may be at risk of developing secondary lymphedema caused by your cancer treatment. It’s good practice to check in with a Lymphedema therapist (or MLD therapist) for guidance on your specific situation.

If you found yourself nodding your head furiously and saying ‘YES, that’s me!” to several or all of the above, it’s a good indication that you are experiencing symptoms of Secondary Lymphedema caused by your cancer treatment. It’s vital to seek guidance from a lymphedema therapist (or MLD therapist) as soon as possible.

3d rendered illustration of the lymphatic system

2) If you’ve not had a particular event, but you feel something is wrong:

  • I feel like something is wrong, even though I can’t really see any physical signs.
  • I’ve been to the doctor numerous times, but still can’t get any answers.
  • I can’t seem to get my energy levels back.
  • I’m prone to infections/my immune system seems weak.
  • My lymph nodes seem to be swollen.
  • The glands in my neck always seem to be swollen.

You may be experiencing a slow or sluggish lymphatic system. Learning how to boost your lymphatic system with simple home-care techniques could really help.

3) If you have some visible swelling, but you don’t know why:

  • I have swelling in my leg(s) or arm(s) or part of the limbs, but I don’t know why.
  • The swelling sometimes reduces overnight.
  • Sometimes the swelling gets worse for no apparent reason.
  • I already checked with a doctor and I don’t have issues with my veins.
  • I suspect that my mother, aunty, uncle had/has the same issue.
  • I exercise and eat well, but the swelling doesn’t seem to reduce.

If you answered yes to one or more of the above you may have minor, reversible issues with your lymphatic system, which can be addressed with MLD therapy and/or simple home-care techniques.

If you answered yes to most of the above you may be experiencing symptoms of Primary Lymphedema and it’s important to seek further guidance from a lymphatic therapist.

4) I have had swelling in my limbs for as long as I can remember, but I can’t seem to get a diagnosis:

  • I have a lot of swelling in one or more limbs.
  • The swelling has been persistent for years.
  • I am overweight.
  • I find it hard to exercise because of the swelling.
  • The swelling impacts my daily life.
  • The swelling impacts my mental wellbeing.
  • I have been told by my doctor that ‘it’s just fat’, but I’m sure there’s more to it than that.

You may be experiencing Primary Lymphedema and/or Weight-Induced Lymphedema.

 

 

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