First of all it’s important to know that lymphedema is one of the most misdiagnosed diseases in our world today. Because other diseases such as chronic edema have similar symptoms, many of the people who suffer from lymphedema don’t even know it. So what can cause lymphedema?
Primary Lymphedema can develop at any stage during the patient’s life. It can be present at birth (milroy’s), develop at or around puberty (praecox) or even in adulthood (tarda). Each of these instances stem from unknown causes or have been associated with vascular anomalies. Some anomalies would be hemangioma, lymphangioma, Klippel Trenaury and Port Wine Stain. Because the causes of primary lymphedema are neither exact nor fully understood, diagnosing this disease is often delayed or overlooked in the patient’s life.
Secondary Lymphedema can occur as a result of many different things. It is also referred to as acquired lymphedema because there is an event that has caused the lymphatic vessels to be damaged or impaired or the lymph nodes to be removed. Some of the causes can be but are not limited to surgery for cancer, (breast, head and neck, prostate, gynecological, bladder or colon) radiation therapy, chronic venous insufficiency, filiarisis, cellulites/lymphangitis, abdominal surgeries, joint replacements, rheumatoid arthritis, vascular surgeries and even traumatic injuries. All of these causes can either appear immediately or weeks, months and even years later.
Any part of the body or limb(s) can develop lymphedema. Remember that it is a dysfunction in the lymphatic system so any part of the lymphatic system can experience these problems and result in localized lymphedema. Recognizing lymphedema in its early stages is the best way to manage and handle the issue before it gets out of hand. Early detection and treatment will improve both the prognosis and condition. Some symptoms to look out for are persistent swelling in any limb or area of the body, tight skin in a specific area, decreased flexibility in the wrist, ankle or hand, difficulty in wearing clothing in one area of the body. It is vitally important that if you experience any or all of these symptoms you seek expert medical advice immediately. It is also a great idea to get at least one other opinion.