Can Lymphedema Go Away On Its Own?
Lymphedema occurs when the lymphatic system is not functioning properly. It is characterized by swelling as a result of the abnormal flow of lymph fluid, which then builds up in the soft tissues of a limb. This could be as a result of various factors such as inflammatory conditions, injury to lymph nodes, infections, radiation therapy or cancer to name a few. Lymphedema could also be a congenital disorder, which one may develop from birth or over the years as one matures. Being diagnosed with lymphedema is not the end of the world, and although it is incurable, it can be managed. In other words, lymphedema will not go away on its own but with time and treatment, it gets better.
Important Facts About Lymphedema
As mentioned earlier, lymphedema occurs when there is a buildup of lymph fluid in tissues of a limb. Lymph is a clear fluid that makes up the lymphatic system in the human body. It is responsible for carrying bacteria and other harmful substances out from the body tissues. If this fluid does not flow normally, it can lead to an edema, which is the buildup of excess fluid, in this case, the lymph fluid. The body has numerous lymph nodes situated in different parts of the body – armpits, neck, arms, legs, and groin to name a few. If these lymph nodes are in one way or the other damaged, then one’s risk of developing lymphedema is high. Lymphedema can also develop in areas where the lymph nodes have also been removed. In addition to that, the more the number of lymph nodes affected, the higher the risk of developing lymphedema.
Lymphedema is a progressive condition that worsens over time if treatment is not administered. Due to its progressive nature, it is difficult to cure the illness and one’s quality of life can only be improved by managing this disorder. This can be done either through exercising, compression, proper skin care, and manual lymphatic drainage. Exercising regularly and being active helps a patient suffering from lymphedema by enhancing flexibility, and muscle strength. One can engage in light and aerobic exercises, which help with toning of muscles, and in cases of lymphedema, can help reduce swelling.
For people living with lymphedema, compression is advised on swollen limbs to reduce the swelling. This can be done by using compression garments (sleeves or stockings). It helps with the movement of the lymph fluid, thus inhibiting the fluid from building up. While exercising, you could also use the compression garments for added advantage. Proper skin care generally entails keeping your skin clean, moisturized and avoiding sunburns, among other good skin care habits. This helps prevent infections, which could worsen a lymphedema.
Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a massage therapy that stimulates the flow of built up lymph fluid from the affected limbs. The fluid is drained from the swollen limbs and it is able to flow to areas where it can be absorbed. Other ways you can manage lymphedema include; elevation of affected limbs, complex decongestive therapy – a combination of MLD, proper skin care, exercise and use of compression garments. It is also important to maintain a healthy body weight as any extra body weight may make it difficult to manage the condition.
Lymphedema is a condition that cannot be ignored as it can get worse and lead to further complications. Although it cannot go away on its own, treatment is of importance so as to reduce swelling, prevent infections and stop the lymphedema from becoming worse. Adding to that, treatment also helps with relieving pain and improving one’s functionality of the affected limbs. Living with lymphedema can seem difficult, but learning to manage the condition can prove helpful in improving one’s quality of life. Ensure you work out regularly, watch your weight, observe proper skin care habits and above all, do not be discouraged. Provided you manage this disorder with the right means, it will get better with time.