February 1, 2018 | By | Reply

– Dr Riya Shah

Lymphedema refers to the excessive and persistent accumulation of fluids and proteins that causes swelling (oedema) in the arms and legs. The swelling may range from mild to severe. Lymphedema can affect the arms, lower abdomen, upper thighs, mid-back and lower back.


Primary Causes

It can be inherited or present from birth caused by problems with the development of lymph vessels in your body.

Secondary Causes

  • Post Surgery:  For example, lymph nodes maybe removed in case of breast cancer which can lead to arm oedema. Patients undergoing liposuction may develop oedema over lower abdomen, upper thighs.
  • Radiation treatment for cancer: Radiation can cause scarring and inflammation of your lymph nodes or lymph vessels.
  • Cancer: If cancer cells block lymphatic vessels, lymphedema may result.
  • Infection: An infection of the lymph nodes or parasites can restrict the flow of lymph fluid.


  • Increased size of the area or asymmetrical appearance of the affected part.
  • Sensory disturbances: A feeling of heaviness, numbness, tingling, warmth or shooting pain on the affected area.
  • Redness and inflammation of the skin.
  • Tightness of the limbs.
  • Slight puffiness of the skin.
  • Decreased resistance to infection.


  • Use of compression pressure garment and bandages.
  • Rest and elevation of limbs to clear off the excess fluids.
  • Physiotherapy: It has an important role in post operative care and oedema management. Various special techniques are used to manage lymphedema. Following treatment methods are helpful in resolving lymphedema:
    • Manual lymphatic drainage: Lymphatic drainage involves slow, repetitive, circular massage strokes by keeping the affected part in elevated position wherever possible. This technique helps in resolving pain, numbness, swelling. Lymphedema treatment needs very specific directional drainage treatment which has to be done by trained professionals.
    • Electrotherapy: Certain equipment are used to clear out the swelling into the lymph nodes.
    • Exercises: after the pain and swelling subsides and exercise program is made which include active range of motion exercises (pumping exercises), flexibility exercises and functional activities to keep the affected part mobile.
    • Low intensity resistance exercises: To improve muscle performance and endurance as well as cardiovascular conditioning.
    • Pilates: To have long lasting results and to achieve & maintain a lengthened toned body pilates really helps in attaining it. We do mat pilates as well as progress them on to pilates on machines.

Here at PhysioRehab your physiotherapist will assess in detail the cause and severity of edema and will accordingly customize the treatment program.

Tags: , , ,

Category: Articles

Leave a Reply