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What is Lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is a swelling in any part of the body caused by an accumulation of protein rich fluid in the tissue which cannot be removed because the lymphatic system is damaged (secondary lymphoedema) or inefficient (primary lymphoedema).

People may be born with or develop a lymphatic system that does not function properly.

The most common, caused by injury to the lymphatic system. For example when lymphatic nodes and vessels are removed or damaged through an injury, surgery or treatment for cancer.

There is no cure for lymphoedema at present. It is a progressive condition that without therapeutic management gradually worsens. Lymphoedema can be managed with specialised massage, compression garments or compression systems, laser treatment, exercises and limb and skin care to minimise its development. Studies have shown that therapeutic management can help produce a reduced limb size, relieves pain and discomfort levels, and increases mobility. It also minimises the risk of infection or injury to the affected limb and increases the patient's general good health and wellbeing.

People who are at risk of developing lymphoedema can put in place management practices to minimise or prevent the condition from developing or worsening.