Lymphedema can be defined as an accumulation of excessive proteins, edema, chronic inflammation, and fibrosis secondary to the impairment of the lymph vessels. The vessels transport molecules to the venous angle of the neck where the lymph system joins the venous system.
Are there different kinds of Lymphedema?
Yes. Lymphedema can be either primary or secondary lymphedema.
- Primary lymphedema is usually due to either a congenital absence of or abnormalities in lymphatic tissue. It can be hereditary (Milroy Disease), lymphedema praecox (onset during puberty), or lymphedema tarda (onset later in life). Primary lymphedema is more prevalent in females than in males.
- Secondary lymphedema is generally caused by an obstruction or interruption of the lymphatic system, usually caused by malignancies, infection, trauma, excision, or post-radiation fibrosis.
It is not known the true number of persons suffering from lymphedema. It is estimated that the incidences of lymphedema in the United States are as follows:
- Primary Lymphedema:1-2 million
- Secondary Lymphedema: 2-3 million
The goal of Lymphedema Management Program is to improve the overall quality of life for a lymphedema survivor.
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage
- Compression Therapy
- Patient Education
- Reduction in volume of the edema
- Restoration of range of motion
- Assistance with the restoring of normal external appearance
- Reduce pain and increase coping skills
- Improve quality of life
- Provide support and sensitivity for the psychological impact of disease
- Enhance person's self esteem