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What are the symptoms of lymphoedema?

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Quick Answer

Symptoms of lymphoedema include a feeling of heaviness or tightness, a restricted range of motion, discomfort or aching, and the swelling of part or all of the arms, legs, fingers or toes, according to WebMD. Some people with lymphoedema may experience thickening or hardening of the skin or repeated infections.

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Full Answer

The swelling associated with lymphoedema can vary from very mild to extremely severe, states WebMD. The swelling may be difficult to perceive, or it can drastically change the size of the affected limb. If the swelling becomes persistent, medical attention is required. If the lymphoedema is caused by cancer treatment, it can take months or years for symptoms to become evident.

Lymphoedema causes people to be more susceptible to infections and other potentially serious complications, notes WebMD. Cellulitis is when the skin becomes infected by bacteria, and lymphangitis is when lymph vessels become infected. An infection can even be caused by a very minor injury to the arm or leg, so accident prevention is necessary for people with this condition.

If lymphoedema is left untreated and becomes extremely severe, it can cause a rare form of soft tissue cancer called lymphangiosarcoma, according to WebMD. Signs of lymphangiosarcoma include purple or red-clue marks on the skin.

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