Symptoms of lymphedema include a feeling of fullness in the arms or legs, where lymphedema typically appears, along with feeling that garments, jewelry and watches fit too tightly; tingling, numbness and swelling, aching and discomfort commonly accompany lymphedema, as well. With lymphedema, the quantity and severity of symptoms varies among individuals. In some people, lymphedema produces mild changes in sensation and physical appearance of extremities, but causes significant changes in others.
Lymphedema refers to the abnormal collection of fluid in the extremities. This, in turn, causes excessive swelling. This condition arises from primary or secondary causes. It appears in some individuals at birth, affecting those whose lymph nodes cannot adequately perform their main role of draining excess bodily fluids.
Lymphedema also occurs in a secondary form as a result of lymph node removal, primarily in cancer patients. Other sources of secondary lymphedema include certain medications, such as Nolvadex and radiation therapy. The cause of primary lymphedema remains unknown, according to WebMD. Regardless of type, however, people with lymphedema receive the same treatment.
Common treatment includes wearing stockings or compression sleeves to facilitate blood flow, along with elevating affected limbs when not in use. Exercise may help control swelling and circulate fluids, as can maintaining a healthy diet and following a good skin care regimen.