Causes and Treatment for lymphedema Leg Condition
One of the causes of lymphedema in the legs is primary lymphedema, which is a hereditary condition due to the genetic make up of the individual. Usually there is a malformation of the lymphatic system at birth which results in the pooling of fluids in the lower extremities, causing a swelling. There is a family history of leg lymphedema in such cases as well.
Secondary lymphedema of the leg is caused due to trauma to the lymphatic system, generally after surgical removal of the lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, radiation therapy for cancer in the abdominal region, the groin or the pelvic area. Lymphedema of the upper extremities is common with breast cancer while lymphedema of the leg is seen in cases with cancer treatment of the prostrate, lung, liver and abdominal cancers. The swelling caused by lymphedema can also be a result of fluid production in the abdomen which spreads to the legs.
Treatment for lymphedema must begin as soon as signs of the disease are seen. The most apparent sign is, of course, the swelling that may appear like a small bump with pain in the area. Other signs include heavy ankles or a small swelling on the inner knee area or sometimes even a pooling of fluid behind the knee. As soon as you notice any of these symptoms, visit your doctor. It is advisable to start treating lymphedema before it gets out of hand and becomes impossible to reverse. In the initial stage, simple methods of treatment help to get the swelling down. Daily use of well fitted elastic stockings is a must and you may keep your feet elevated as much as possible. At night, the lymphedema leg should be wrapped with elastic wraps and kept elevated to promote the lymphatic flow.
To keep the lymphedema in check, you can do simple leg exercises like leg kicks, pumping the feet up and down or going up and down on the toes while standing. Walking regularly and following an exercise routine can help in reducing the swelling and controlling lymphedema. As with any lymphedema symptoms, make sure to maintain good skin hygiene. It is essential to wash the legs with regular soap, rinse the legs thoroughly and dry the area between the toes to avoid infections. If you do get an infection or have an ingrown toe nail, ensure that you treat it immediately.
People suffering from lymphedema of the legs should wear closed shoes with padded socks to protect the feet from injury. The feet should be kept clean and dry and extreme care should be taken while cutting the toe nails. Patients should avoid using tight clothes and undergarments or socks with tight elastic bands. Constricting the limb may increase the pressure in the blood vessels leading to fluid retention and swelling. During air travel, it is desirable to wear compression stockings so as not to aggravate the lymphedema leg. Although, till date, there is no cure for lymphedema, with certain precautionary measures, it is possible to reduce the risk of developing the condition or at least delaying its onset.
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