If you have come here wondering what lymphedema is, or wondering if you could possibly be developing it, here is a brief overview of symptoms that could indicate lymphedema.
Mostly a persons History, Observations, Measurements, Signs and Symptoms diagnose Lymphedema. These include:
- Swelling of a limb or body part.
- Swelling that is pitting in nature (pressure leaves an indentation (pit) that slowly fills in again).
- Swelling worsens over time.
- Sensation of heaviness and fatigue in the swollen limb.
- A dull aching in the limb.
- Repeated episodes of infection (Cellulitis).
- Clothing or Shoes do not fit.
There are a couple of studies that have been used to evaluate the lymphatic system, though not commonly used.
- Lymphoscintigraphy - a water-based contrast medium, which does not damage lymphatic tissues, makes it possible for a gamma camera to trace the flow of lymph. A computer generates images based on the data gathered by the gamma camera.
- Lymphangiography - A radiographic study of lymphatic structures following the injection of an oil-based contrast medium. (The purpose of the contrast medium is to make the lymph vessels and nodes visible on the x-rays.) This oil-based substance damages lymphatic vessels and this procedure is no longer used in the diagnosis of lymphedema.
A thorough history and evaluation is best at deciphering Lymphedema, and if further studies are indicated your therapist will consult with your physician to get them done.Sonja M. Maul PT, CLT-LANA National Board Certified Lymphedema Therapist