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What are some signs of lymphedema?

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Quick Answer

Signs and symptoms of lymphedema include a swollen arm or leg, a heavy or tight sensation, a limited range of motion, and an aching feeling, according to Mayo Clinic. People with lymphedema may also experience recurring infections and fibrosis, a condition in which the skin hardens and thickens.

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Full Answer

Lymphedema is a condition in which a person's arm or leg becomes swollen, although both arms or legs are sometimes affected, explains Mayo Clinic. Cancer patients undergoing treatment often suffer lymphedema, as the treatment involves removing or causing damage to the lymph nodes. An obstruction in the lymphatic system, which is a component of the immune system, leads to improper draining of lymph fluid. The accumulation of fluid thus causes swelling.

Swelling may occur in fingers, toes, or the entire arm or leg, states Mayo Clinic. Some patients notice a mildly bigger arm or leg, whereas others suffer significant changes in size, making it difficult to use the affected limb. Patients who undergo cancer treatment usually develop lymphedema several months or years after the treatment.

While lymphedema does not have a cure, patients with the condition can manage it with proper care of the affected area, notes Mayo Clinic. Anyone who notices persistent swelling in the arm or leg should consult a health care professional immediately to get a diagnosis.

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