Lymphedema is caused by a blockage in your lymphatic system that prevents fluid from draining well. As fluid builds up, swelling can occur in arms or legs, or in other areas such as your chest or back. Lymphedema is most commonly caused by the removal of or damage to lymph nodes or vessels as part of cancer treatment.
Although there is no known cure for lymphedema, many treatments can reduce pain and swelling, and restore some movement. Treatment approaches include skin and nail care, compression bandages or sleeves, exercises, manual lymphatic drainage, and physical therapy.
Symptoms of lymphedema:
- Swelling in part or all of a limb, including fingers or toes.
- A feeling of heaviness or tightness in an arm or leg.
- Restricted movement in an arm or leg.
- Aching or discomfort in an arm or leg.
- Recurring infections in an affected limb.
- Hardening or thickening of the skin on an arm or leg.
- Tight fitting clothes on an arm or leg.