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What is Lymphoedema?

The lymphatic system plays an important part in the body’s defence against infection. Lymph is a clear fluid which forms in the body and normally drains back into the circulation through this system. Lymphoedema occurs if the drainage routes become damaged or blocked, causing lymph fluid to accumulate and swelling to occur. Unlike other oedemas, lymphoedema leads to changes in the tissues such as fibrosis and an increased risk of infection. When this happens, the swelling can become even more difficult to control.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Swelling of part or all of your arm or leg, including fingers or toes
  • A feeling of heaviness or tightness
  • Restricted range of motion
  • Aching or discomfort
  • Recurring infections
  • Hardening and thickening of the skin (fibrosis)

How can Physiotherapy help lymphoedema?

Research shows the best results are obtained through a combination of treatments including:

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage
  • Compression garments/compression bandaging
  • Exercises
  • Scar management

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