Lymphoedema is a condition that occurs when there is damage to the bodys lymphatic system, resulting in large, and sometimes uncomfortable swelling. It can affect any part of the body but is usually found in the arms or legs.
Lymphoedema can be described as primary or secondary:
Primary lymphoedema: usually determined from birth, and arises due to the underdevelopment or failure of the lymphatic system.
Secondary lymphoedema: where lymphatic failure is a result of damage to an otherwise normal lymphatic system, e.g. due to surgery, radiotherapy, infection (such as cellulitis), reduced mobility, trauma, obesity, problems with veins not working very well or cancer.
Whilst lymphoedema is not usually painful, the swelling can be extremely uncomfortable, and can affect a your mobility as well as your self-confidence. Swelling can appear anywhere on the body, but is most commonly found in the legs or arms, and can bring with it side effects such as skin infections, a feeling of heaviness, and folds developing in the skin