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What is Lymphoedema?

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What is Lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema - What is it ?

Lymphoedema is a chronic inflammation which does not only affect extremities, but may also involve the face, neck, torso and the genitals. The oedema, also known as lymphatic obstruction, is a condition of localised fluid retention caused by a compromised lymphatic system and may arise from surgery, radiation or the presence of a tumour in the area of the lymph nodes. 

  

 How does it work?

To understand what lymphoedema is and how it is treated, it is important to first understand how the lymphatic system works. The lymphatic system (often referred to as the body's "second" circulatory system) collects and filters the interstitial fluid (lymph) of the body. Lymphatics form part of your immune system, helping to cope with infection by cleansing/detoxifying your body's tissues.

The lymph fluid from the body's tissues drain into the lymphatic vessels and travel to at least one lymph node, where harmful substances such as bacteria and waste products are filtered out and destroyed. The lymph is ultimately empied into the right or the left subclavian vein, where it is passed back into the main blood vessels. 

 

The danger with lymphedema comes from the constant risk of developing an uncontrolled infection in the affected limb.

If the vessels are not able to adequately drain lymph and the amount of fluid in an area becomes greater than the capacity of the lymphatic system to drain/transport away - lymphoedema occurs.