Your lymphatic system is an important part of your body’s illness-fighting (immune) system. When your lymph system is working properly, lymph fluid travels through lymph vessels in your body to filters called lymph nodes. These nodes trap bacteria and other foreign substances that could otherwise enter your bloodstream.
When your lymph vessels or nodes are missing or damaged, extra fluid can build up in parts of your body – often in your arms and legs.
When fluid from your lymphatic system builds up in your body and causes swelling, you have a condition called lymphedema. “Edema” refers to swelling, so lymph-related swelling is lymphedema.
Lymphedema isn’t curable. However, you can successfully manage symptoms by following your doctor’s treatment guidelines and working to prevent future lymphedema episodes. Learn more about preventing lymphedema from returning.
There are two forms of lymphedema:
We know it can feel frustrating to live with lymphedema, particularly when you’re worried that it may return. Our specialists can help make lymphedema management a lot easier. We offer:
The most common lymphedema symptom is swelling in your arms, legs, hands, fingers, shoulders or chest. Other symptoms can include:
To check for lymphedema, your doctor will review your medical history, discuss any medications you’re taking and perform a full physical exam.
If you need additional tests, they might include:
Learn more about heart and vascular testing and diagnosis at Aurora.
Your doctor’s treatment recommendations will depend on what’s causing your lymphedema symptoms and how severe they are. Treatment options could include:
We provide specialized lymphedema therapy at the following locations:
Lymphedema isn’t something we can cure. However, you can do many things to help prevent the condition from occurring again.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions. General prevention tips include: