8833 Perimeter Park Blvd.
Suite 904
Jacksonville, FL 32216
904-928-3303
904-928-3343 fax

Lymphedema

Understanding how the lymphatic system works helps to understand what happens when it no longer functions well.  An easy way to think of the lymph system is as the garbage removal system, while the venous system is the grocery delivery system.  Protein-rich lymph fluid seeps from the blood vessels into the body’s tissue at a rate of 1-2 liters of fluid per day.  Your body uses the protein that it needs and the excess proteins, along with the lymphatic load (dead cells, bacteria, toxins) are removed by the lymph system.

This removal takes place by the action of the lymphatic vessels which pull the used fluid and load into the vessels and then push the fluid to the lymph nodes (where there is filtering) and finally dumps it all into the vena cava (the largest vein in the body).   It now leaves the body through the kidneys or is filtered and circulated back through the body.

There are two kinds of lymphedema: Primary and Secondary.  They both involve a problem with the removal of lymph fluid and differ only in the originating cause of the problem.

Primary is usually caused by a lymphatic system that has fewer lymphatic vessels or lymphatic nodes than the body needs to remove the lymphatic fluid from the tissue.  This can be severe and immediate and show itself at birth (congenital), but most likely it will appear at puberty or have an adult onset.  When the system is inadequate it will go along until something changes to overwhelm it, at that point lymphedema appears.

Secondary is caused by an outside disturbance such as surgery, injury, infection, tumor or radiation.  By far, the most common cause is the removal of lymph tissue and lymph nodes during surgery.

Lymphedema cannot be cured.  It can be managed and it should be managed as it can continue to get worse.

The most important thing that you can do is to protect your arm or affected limb.  Most people have been given the basic information on care.  Do not be timid…do not let anyone take your blood pressure or puncture your arm with a needle for blood work.

One of the major triggers for onset that we have seen is taking a flight.  I cannot count the number that there was no problem until that flight.  Once the genie is out of the bottle it cannot be put back in.  Do not fly without compression on the affected limb and hand or foot.

To correctly treat lymphedema the therapist needs to be properly trained.  The Vodder School of Austria is world renowned for its extensive and exacting training program.

Our therapists have been trained by the Vodder School of Austria.  I was one of the first 100 therapist (1994) trained in this technique that worked in the United States.  I am the only therapist in Jacksonville that has been doing this work since that time.

Reducing the edema is only part of the work; we reduce your pain and increase your range of motion, and teach you what you need to know to protect yourself.  We also work on the scar adhesions, fibrosis, or cording that can complicate the problem.

There is more to be said about this condition, treatment and care but each case is unique and can only be given after an exam.

Other articles on contributing factors:

8833 Perimeter Park Blvd., Suite 904, Jacksonville, FL 32216 | 904-928-3303 | 904-928-3343 fax | solutions@stillinpain.info

The information presented here is informative only and is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.  There has been no intent to provide medical advice, diagnose illness or in any way practice medicine.  Always consult your physician on matters of your health.  License MM33984