Lymphedema may not be a life-threatening condition but its complications are. Hence, it’s important to know the early signs of lymphedema in legs, in order to provide the right care at the earliest time possible.
The term “lymphedema” refers to a collection of fluid that causes swelling of the upper or lower extremities. The most common cause of this fluid buildup is the removal of the lymph nodes as part of cancer treatment. Removing these lymph nodes can impact the flow of the lymphatic fluid, resulting in a buildup in the affected site.
In some cases, lymphedema can be a result of developmental abnormality and may be precipitated by trauma or a medical condition.
Early Signs of Leg Lymphedema
The edema or the swelling in lymphedema doesn’t happen overnight. In most cases, the feeling of heaviness in the legs, tingling sensation, feeling of ‘tightness’, and shooting pain are felt before the leg swelling is noticed.
Other early signs of leg lymphedema include redness of the skin, slight puffiness of the skin, and limited physical mobility as a result of reduced flexibility in the joints.
Leg Care for Early Stage Lymphedema
Early or mild stage (Stage 1) lymphedema can be reversed as there is no damage to the soft tissues yet. Even if the fluid buildup at this stage is considered ‘mild,’ treatment should not be delayed as it can progress and lead to more swelling, discomfort, and restrictions in mobility.
The following can help you in reversing or keep your leg lymphedema from progressing:
Walking and swimming are good forms of light exercises that can help you if you have the early signs of leg lymphedema. Gentle contractions of the legs can encourage lymph flow.
The added pressure from compression garments encourages the flow of the lymphatic fluid out of the affected limb. Make sure the right kind and quality to make the most of its benefits.
A special massage technique called manual lymphatic drainage encourages the flow of the lymphatic fluid out of the leg. When trying this option, be sure to work with someone who is specially trained and well-experienced in doing this special type of massage.
Taking care of your leg the moment you notice the early signs of lymphedema in legs is a good way of preventing complications along the way.
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