Lymphedema is swelling caused by an abnormal build-up of lymphatic fluid in a part of the body. Lymphatic fluid is also called “lymph”. Like blood, it flows throughout the human body. It carries white blood cells, antibodies and nutrients.
Lymphedema is a chronic disease that can be controlled.
There are two types of lymphedema:
The main symptom of lymphedema is swelling in the part of the body affected.
Other symptoms may accompany this swelling:
Treatments enable you to control the symptoms of lymphedema and to prevent numerous complications. Your doctor will suggest the appropriate treatment according to the status of your health.
Multi-layer bandaging reduces swelling of affected body part as much as possible.
A special massage technique called “lymphatic drainage” also reduces swelling.
Once the swelling has been reduced to the maximum, it is necessary to wear a compression garment during the day and sometimes at night. This garment should be worn on the long-term. It helps control the swelling and prevents numerous complications.
Compression garments must be worn only upon recommendation of a physician. They must be adjusted by a specialist.
People with lymphedema can be reimbursed for a portion of the cost of multi-layer bandages and compression garments. To find out more, check out the Compression Garments Program for the Treatment of Lymphedema page on the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) website.
If left untreated, lymphedema can:
You can reduce the risk of lymphedema by following these recommendations:
When you have lymphedema, you can watch your health by following these recommendations:
People who have had surgery or radiotherapy following a cancer can be affected by secondary lymphedema. People who have undergone surgery in the armpit or groin are especially at risk.
Last update: October 19, 2016 8:32 AM
The information on this website by no means replaces the advice of a health professional. If you have questions regarding your health, contact Info-Santé 811 or see a health professional.