The Warning Signs of Lymphedema
Stage I lymphedema -- before the swelling becomes extreme.
If you are at risk of developing lymphedema and any of the following warning signs appear, you should promptly seek a diagnosis and treatment.
Lymphedema is a chronic condition that cannot be cured; however, the sooner treatment is started, the more effective this treatment can be!
Swelling of the affected limb can develop gradually. Or this swelling can appear “suddenly” as if the limb had ballooned in size.
This sudden swelling often follows a gradual increase that has been ignored.
An infection within the area that is “at risk” for lymphedema Tissues affected by lymphedema are prone to infections. Sometimes such an infection is the first sign of lymphedema. See Lymphedema Related Infections.
Pitting edema is an early sign of lymphedema. To test for this symptom, press a finger against the swollen tissue. If this pressure creates an indentation that gradually fills in, pitting edema is considered to be present.
An unexplained sensation of “pins and needles” in the area at risk. Swelling can cause pressure on nerves and this pressure creates these uncomfortable sensations.
A feeling of heaviness in the affected area. Before you notice gradually increasing swelling, you may notice that the limb feels heavier.
A sensation of tightness of the skin surrounding the affected tissues. Gradually increasing swelling, or sudden swelling, stretches the skin and can make it feel tight.
Changes such as a ring or bracelet that are too tight or a shoe that is suddenly too small. These can be indications that the limb is increasing in size.
Aching in the adjacent shoulder or hip. The increasing weight of the swollen limb can cause the adjacent joint to ache.
Decreased mobility of a joint. As a limb increases in size, it may decrease the ability of the joint (elbow or knee) to move properly or reduce range of motion.
LIVING WELL WITH LYMPHEDEMA by A. Ehrlich, A. Harrewijn PT, CLT-LANA, and E. McMahon PhD. Lymph Notes 2005, page 19. Buy now from Amazon.com or click here for other ordering options.
TO LEARN MORE
To Learn more about the most recent standards of these practices, go to the NLN website (www.lymphnet.org.)
@ Lymphnotes.com, 2013. This information does not replace the opinion of a knowledgeable physician.
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Category: Are You at Risk for Lymphedema? Updated: 2013-08-12
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