Lymphedema, causes and remedies

Lymphedema, causes and remedies

Swelling, heaviness and pain in the limbs: lymphedema is a non-reversible disease which, if taken in time, can be kept under control with some natural measures.


The term lymphedema is extremely specific and is not to be confused with a simple swelling or stagnation that is resolved in a short time.

Lymphedema is a real pathology that manifests itself with a significant swelling of the part, generally in the upper or lower limbs, due to lymphatic accumulation in the tissues. 

The affected arm or leg is swollen , sometimes turgid, fibrous and painful if inflammation also appears.
It is not a completely solvable pathology . Those affected must pay attention and implement multiple strategies. 

The causes of lymphedema are to be found in a failure of the lymphatic ganglia of the affected part, which do not drain the lymph. 

There are primary lymphedema, due to lymphatic hypoplasia, slowing
of circulation, stagnation and secondary lymphedema attributable to obstruction or removal of the lymphatic vessels.

primary lymphedema: forms of lymphedema due to genetic mutation of the vascular growth factor receptor, which occurs within the first two years of life; lymphedema of a genetic nature, such as Yellow Nail Syndrome
, with pleural effusion, or Hennekam Syndrome with intestinal abnormalities, facial deformities and mental retardation. 

secondary lymphedema : surgical interventions with dissection, radiotherapy, tumor obstruction, chronic venous insufficiency cause a lymphoedematous process of this type.

In conditions of secondary lymphedema the lymphatic ganglia do not perform their function because they are lymph nodes removed due to the presence of a tumor; breast cancer with involvement of the axillary socket often
involves the lymphatic network of the arms; gynecological tumors or melanomas involve the possible attack of the inguinal lymph nodes and the lymphatic circulation of the leg is affected. 

Radiotherapy also affects the functionality of the lymph nodes involved in the treated area. The result is that under certain conditions the lymphatic circulation slows down and stagnates which require a structured aid . 

Stages of lymphedema

Lymphedema presents as swelling, heaviness, and slight pain in the soft tissues. It can evolve and  three stages of aggravation are identified : 

>  stage 1 : edema can be treated manually and within a few hours the affected part can return to normal;

stage 2 : edema is not treatable, and inflammation degenerates into fibrosis

stage 3 : the edema is hard and irreversible, due to the overt fibrosis of the soft tissues.In some cases associated with lymphedema, skin changes occur, such as hyperkeratosis ,  papillomas , fungal infections . 

Natural remedies for lymphedema

Lymphedema, as mentioned before, is a non-reversible disease , but it can be improved if caught in time. 

There is no specific remedy, but a series of measures to be implemented in a concerted manner , to alleviate the condition and, as much as possible, prevent it.

mobilization of edema : the part involved must be subjected to mechanical maneuvers to remove stagnation and drain it where possible. Then manual lymphatic drainage massages  performed by professionals and intermittent pneumatic compressions to mobilize the edematous mass;

green clay : clay packs to absorb accumulated liquids as much as possible. There are real bandages capable of compacting, draining and absorbing lymphatic stagnation, decongesting the limb and
also improving any inflammatory stage; 

physical exercise : under the instructions of a professional, a physiotherapist, the affected limb must be subjected to  scheduled exercise . It means that according to the stage of the lymphedema, exercises must be carried out which, due to their intensity and range of motion, move the accumulated lymph, in order to oxygenate the tissues, elasticise the muscles and joints.

counteract the force of gravity : especially during sleep! If the lymphedema involves the lower limbs it is advisable to tilt the bed or the mattress, so as to have the legs slightly raised with respect to
the pelvis; if you do not have a modular bed base, you can remedy it with a pillow under the knees. 

If, on the other hand, the lymphedema concerns an upper limb, it would be advisable to have a stirrup above the headboard where you can occasionally rest your hand to keep the arm raised.

nutrition : some foods should be limited or even avoided to prevent inflammation of the tissues, states of acidosis, stagnation of metabolic toxins. Better to avoid milk and derivatives , reduce the consumption of red meats, eat fruit between meals and not associate it with other foods with which they can create fermentation, reduce industrial carbohydrates and sugars, such as biscuits, brioches, snacks of various kinds, carbonated drinks. Avoid alcohol and smoking, and drink plain water.

In these cases it is not possible to give indications regarding natural remedies with a draining effect , because it depends from case to case and above all on the cause of the lymphedema. 

The factors that involve this pathology are many and only the doctor can provide more precise information in this regard. 

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