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Do You Suffer from Lower Extremity Lymphedema?

Do You Suffer from Lower Extremity Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a chronic lymphatic disease that results in disfiguring swelling in one or more parts of the body. It can be hereditary (primary lymphedema) or it can occur for secondary reasons like after a surgical procedure, infection, radiation or other physical trauma.  

Fact:  “1 in 1000 Americans suffer from lymphedema.”

Lower extremity lymphedema is often under-recognized and, as a result, underserved as a patient group. While many individuals attribute cancer as the top cause of lower extremity lymphedema, it is actually chronic venous insufficiency (CVI.) Unmanaged edema predisposes the individuals to possibly hospitalization, leg ulcers/wounds, and recurrent cellulitis.

Some secondary causes of lymphedema are obesity, trauma, pregnancy, surgery, extended periods of standing or sitting, and muscle weakness. 

Lymphedema is a progressive and chronic condition in which protein-rich fluid builds up in the interstitial tissue spaces. This can lead to tissue damage and adversely affect the skin immune system. With the onset of lymphedema, the lymphatic system cannot successfully pick up and convey fluid back into the cardiovascular circulation.

According to the most recent and largest epidemiology international study on Chronic edema, the ‘Lymphedema IMpact and PRevalence INTernational’ (LIMPRINT), that involved collaboration across nine countries and 13,141 participants, there was a higher prevalence of 38% (723 patients) amongst acute hospital inpatients. Significant risk factors associated with chronic edema were reported to be advancing age, obesity, immobility and comorbidities including diabetes mellitus. One of the complications of chronic edema involves sustaining wounds commonly in the lower limb impacting on the individual’s mobility. Chronic edema was significantly associated with a history of cellulitis namely that patients with and without wounds suffered at least one event of cellulitis compared to those without chronic edema.

Literature also extensively describes the profound debilitating impact of chronic edema on people’s physical and psychological well-being. Compared to their peers without chronic edema, those with the condition present poorer psychological adjustment and lowered health-related quality of life . The impact of chronic edema on health-related quality of life was reported to be worse in those with lower limb edema compared to those with upper limb edema.

The Lymphedema Management Program at Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic and Hyperbarics custom tailors its model of treatment from Compression Bandaging to lymphedema pumps with the transition to compression garments, skin and nail care precautions, addressing nutrition, patient education in self-care, and training in a home program to promote lymphatic circulation.

Schedule a visit with Dr. Badam at Vayu Advanced Wound Clinic & Hyperbarics to take control of your Lymphedema or Chronic edema.

Author
Dr. Manjulatha Badam

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