The human body protects itself from infections through the release of the white blood cells (WBC). These cells are the gate-way to the body’s defense mechanism. One special type of WBC is the lymphocytes. These are cells located in the lymphatic system which help the body fight viruses, bacteria and other disease causing micro organism. However, a blockage may occur in the lymphatic system due to factors such as infections.
This condition is called lymphatic obstruction or lymphedema. Lymphedema is characterized by swellings in the chest, head or the genitals. It mostly affects the legs or the arms. Under special circumstances, lymphedema may affect both legs. It is important to know that the condition is incurable but the beauty is that it can be controlled when special treatment is applied.
There are two types of lymphedema; primary and secondary. The primary lymphedema is caused by spontaneous changes in the gene make-up and mostly occurs at birth or during puberty. On the other hand, secondary lymphedema is caused by factors such as trauma, injury, infection or cancer that may affect the lymphatic system. Discussed below are the symptoms and treatment methods of secondary lymphedema.
Symptoms of Secondary Lymphedema.
In most cases, secondary lymphedema is characterized by swelling of the legs and the arms. However, severe fatigue is one symptom that can indicate your suffering from this condition. Fatigue may cause everything around to you to come to a standstill because you will not be in a position to attend to your daily routine. Secondary lymphedema may cause movement to be strenuous leading to decreased physical activity and this will eventually cause the body to get to fatigue mode. Patients who have gone through chemotherapy have reported to be severely fatigued. This is because after chemotherapy, the legs and arms are enlarged therefore moving them becomes a problem. This results to severe fatigue.
Swelling in the head or neck
Swelling in the head or the neck region is also a symptom of secondary lymphedema (SL). The head and neck regions swell especially when a patient undergoes cancer treatment. The swelling takes a period of 2-6 months to fully manifest. It is characterized by difficulty in breathing, nasal congestion, difficulty in swallowing, visual impairment and chronic ear ache. In the head and neck cancer management, the lymph nodes might be removed during biopsy or they may be damaged by the radiations during chemotherapy. The result is build up of the lymphatic fluid in the head and neck region causing the swelling.
Heavy feeling on the arms/legs
This is another symptom of secondary lymphedema. A build up of lymphatic fluid might accumulate on your toes on one or both legs. In the same manner, this accumulation may be felt on your arms. This build up of fluids in the limbs is characterized by strenuous movements of the limbs due to heaviness caused by the accumulated fluid.
Aching in the affected limb
The build-up of lymphatic fluid on the toes causes your limbs feel heavy. This causes a feeling of discomfort and aching. Equally, as part of cancer treatment, the lymph nodes might be removed through surgery causing pain. Therefore, aching in the affected limb is a symptom of secondary lymphedema.
Difficulty wearing shoes, wrist watch or clothes
Under normal circumstances, wearing shoes, wrist watch or clothes should be easy. Unfortunately, when you develop secondary lymphedema, it becomes difficult. This is because your limbs swell thus preventing penetration of the shoes, watches to your body. It is therefore with no doubt that difficulty in wearing shoes and clothes are a symptom of secondary lymphedema.
The limb motion range is restricted
We greatly depend on our limbs for movement, balance and accessing things around us. The onset of secondary lymphedema brings about restrictions in our lives. This is as a result of the swellings that develop due to secondary lymphedema. The limbs become heavy and the body generally gets fatigued thereby hampering the limb motion.
Blisters on the skin.
Lymph fluid may drain through the small break in the skin causing blisters a symptom of secondary lymphedema.
Treatment of Secondary Lymphedema.
There are people suffering from secondary lymphedema in Toronto. This is a great concern to them because they keep on asking how they can access treatment. The beauty is that for the management of this condition, there are specialized garments and pumps designated for its treatment.
Secondary lymphedema garments are made for different parts of the body. There is room to have your best style and fit as discussed below.
It is important to have two or more garments because it will help a great deal when one is at the laundry, the other will still give you the comfort you need. Once you have your garments, you should seek a professional to help you fit your garment to prevent exerting too much or low pressure that will have a negative impact. It is also important to note that the shelf life of compression garments is 3-6 months therefore rotation of old garments should be maintained.
If you are in Toronto, some of the best secondary lymphedema garment brands to consider for your treatment are:
- Lohmann &Rauscher. This brand has been in existence for more than 170 years and prides itself in manufacturing the best dressing materials and medical devices. It manufactures lymphedema garments which supports the patient from the most critical stage to that when they can take care of themselves. This brand manufactures both daytime and night time garments.
- JOBST. This is another brand that is more dedicated to providing a quality lifestyle to lymphedema patients. This company manufactures medical products for secondary lymphedema management. Example, the stockings for managing both ankle and the toes and chest bras.
- Juzo. It is a brand that manufactures compression garments, stockings, compression tights and other medical devices that help in management of the condition.
- Sigvaris. Best solution for you to go out through your day. With Sigvaris, you are guaranteed of comfort.
- THUASNE. This brand works always to meet its client’s needs. They manufacture garments that offer protection on the arms, legs, groin and the chest region.
- Mediven. Offers secondary lymphedema garments in three major forms.
- Medical compression stocking for men and women. Under this classification there are different products, classes, compressions and colors which come in different styles for managing this condition.
- Lymphology. Medi offers a wide range of knitwears, four choices of flat knit and four choices of circular knit. They offer to give a wide range that will meet the patient’s needs.
- CircAid by Medi. Prides itself in measured inelastic compression therapy.
Lymphedema Pump Therapy is being considered as the most effective way of secondary lymphedema treatment method. Pneumatic pumps helps to discharge the fluid from the body and alleviate pain. This special pump increases blood flow and effects wound healing.
Using the pump involves placing it on the afflicted area; the air pump then inflates cushions on the sleeve forcing pressure on the region. Once this pressure is achieved, it forces the fluids to quickly circulate in your body for removal.
In case you are looking for a pump in Toronto, consider factors such as: high standards of utility and quality. These pumps can be used at the comfort of your home. They are quiet, comfortable to use and are light.
The symptoms above are evidences that you might be suffering from secondary lymphedema. Therefore it is important to seek medical attention and be incorporated into the discussed treatment schedule.