Edema, Oedema, Fluid Retention, Water Retention, Swollen Leg, Swollen Arm, Lymphedema, Lymphoedema, Swelling of the ankles - feet - legs; Ankle swelling; Foot swelling; Leg swelling; Edema - peripheral; Peripheral edema
Swelling is simply defined as the enlargement of an effected body part, generally arm or leg as a result of fluid retention. It may also effect the skin, organs, hand, fingers, foot and even toes. The fluid collects because the body is not able to eliminate the excess liquids.Swelling can occur as a result of gravity, especially from sitting or standing in one place for too long. Water naturally gets pulled down into your legs and feet. It can happen from a weakening in the valves of the veins in the legs (a condition calld
Certain diseases — such as congestive heart failure, deep venous thrombosis (thrombophlebitis) and lung, liver, kidney, and thyroid diseases — can cause edema or make it worse. Being pregnant can cause edema in the legs as the uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels in the lower trunk of the body.
Other causes of leg swelling (fluid retention or trapped fluids) may be, but are not limited to:
Acute kidney failure
Chronic kidney failure
Cardiomyopathy (disease of heart tissue.
Chronic venous insufficiency (leg veins do not return blood to the heart as they should).
Nonseteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin etc.)
Pericarditis (swelling of the membrane surrounding the heart.
Some types of Chemotherapy
Preeclampsia (high blood pressure caused by pregnancy)
Prescription drugs, including drugs for depression, diabetes and high blood pressure
Prolonged sitting as in air flights,
Thrombophletis (blood clot, usually in the leg)
Leg swelling may also be an inflammtory response triggered by the immune system as it reacts to an antigen.
This swellimg can be caused by Achilles tendon rupture
ACL injury (tearing of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee)
Broken ankle/broken foot
Infection or wound of the leg Knee bursitis (inflammation of fluid-filled sacs in the knee joint)
Osteoarthritis (disease causing the breakdown of joints)
Rhumatoid arthritis (inflammatory joint disease) Sprained ankle
Illiotibial band syndrome (overuse injuiry of the tissue of the outer thigh and knee)I
It is not uncommon and has been experienced by many many people. Usually, this swelling is temporary and goes away after the underlying condition is healed.
If it effects a specific area i.e. arm or leg it is referred to a localized edema, if it effects the entire over all body it is referred to as generalized edema.
Most commonly, the treatment will be aimed at the cause of the swelling. Diuretics may be prescribed to reduce the swelling, but they can have side effects. Diuretics may be prescribed to reduce the swelling, but they can have side effects. Home treatment for benign causes of leg swelling should be tried before drug therapy.
Treatment may also include the use of diuuretics which are medicines that cause the fluid to be moved through your system. Usually, it is prescribed when the problem arises from heart disease, liver or kidney failure.
The most commonly prescribed diureticcs are called loop diuretics as they work in the kidney tubles referred to as the loop of Henie. These are small ducts that regulate sale and water balance, while transporting the urine.
The main loop diuretics are furosemide (Lasix), torsemide (Demadex) and Butethamine (Bumex).
The other "type" of diuretics are called thiazide types. These include hydrocholothiazide, matolozone.
One serious drawback to the use of diuretics is that they may stip the body of its potassium, therefore a potassium supplement becomes critical for the patient.
Tips that may help leg swelling, and that can be used at home include, raising the leg above the heart while lyng down; exercising the leg; follow a low salt diet; wear support stockings; when takling a flight stand often and move around; avoid tight clothing or garters or any other garment that might constrict the leg; and finally loose weight if you need. Incidentally, morbid obesity has now risen to the one of the top two causes of what is called secondary leg lymphedema.
Temporary Leg SwellingThis temporary leg swelling may be caused by an infection, burn or sunburn, insect bites, an injury to the leg such as a sprain, surgery, or even medications such a hormone drugs, steroids, blood pressure drugs, or may be an allergic reaction in which is it referred to as angioedema. This may also be an part of the inflammatory response your body goes through it trying to protect and heal the leg or arm from the cause of the trauma.
Long Term leg Swelling.
Long term leg swelling is referred to as edema. This is usually related to specific medical conditions. These conditions may include diabetes, congestive heart failure, blood clot, varicose veins, kidney failure, liver failure or a number of cardio-vascular problems.
Treatment for this long term leg swelling is in conjunction with the treatment for the condition that caused it. Usually diuretics are also used to relieve the swelling or water-retention.
What is Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is defined simply as an accumulation of excessive protein rich fluid in the tissues of the leg. The accumulation of fluid causes the permanent swelling caused by a defective lymph system.
A conservative estimate is that there may be 1-2 million people in the United States with some form of primary lymphedema and two to three million with secondary lymphedema.
What are the symptoms of Lymphedema?
If you are an at risk person for lymphedema there are early warning signs you should be aware of. If you experience any or several of these symptoms, you should immediately make your physician aware of them.
1.) Unexplained aching, hurting or pain in the arm or leg.
3.) Localized swelling of any area. Sometimes lymphedema may start as swelling in one area, for example the hand, or between the elbow and hand. This is an indication of early lymphatic malfunction.
4.) Any inflammation, redness or infection.
5.) You may experience a feeling of tightness, heaviness or weakness of the arm or leg.
How is Lymphedema Treated?
The preferred treatment today is decongestive therapy. The forms of therapy are complete decongestive therapy (CDT) or manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), there are variances, but most involve these two type of treatment.
It is a form of massage therapy where the leg is very gently massaged to actually move the fluid out of the leg and into an area where the lymph system still functions normally.
With these massage treatments, swelling is reduced and then the patient is fitted with a pre-measured custom pressure garment to keep the swelling down and/or is taught to use compression wraps to maintain the leg size.
What are some of the complications of lymphedema?
Infections such as cellulitis,
This is due not only to the large accumulation of
fluid, but it is well documented that lymphodemous limbs are localized immunodeficient.
2. Draining wounds that leak lymphorrea which is very caustic to surrounding skin tissue and acts as a port of entry for infections.
3. Increased pain as a result of the compression of nerves usually caused by the development of fibrosis and increased build up of fluids.
4. Loss of Function due to the swelling and limb changes.
5. Depression - Psychological coping as a result of the disfigurement and debilitating effect of lymphedema.
6. Deep venous thrombosis again as a result of the pressure of the swelling and fibrosis against the vascular system. Also, can happen as a result of cellulitis, lymphangitis and infections.
7. Sepsis, Gangrene are possibilities as a result of the infections.
8. Possible amputation of the limb.
9. Pleural effusions may result if the lymphatics in the abdomen or chest are to overwhelmed to clear the lung cavity of fluids.
10. Skin complications such as splitting, plaques, susceptibility to fungus and bacterial infections.
11. Chronic localized inflammations.
Can lymphedema be cured?
No, at the present time there is no cure for lymphedema. But it can be treated and managed and most of the complications can be avoided. Life with lymphedema can still be active and full, with proper treatment, patient education, and patient life style adaptation.
For extensive information on lymphedema, please visit our home page:
(c) Copyright 2005 by Pat O'Connor and Lymphedema People. Use of this information for educational purpose is encouraged and permitted. It must be available free and without charge and not used for financial renumeration or gain. Please include an acknowledgement to the author and a link to Lymphedema People.
Foot, leg, and ankle swelling
Alternative names Return to topSwelling of the ankles - feet - legs; Ankle swelling; Foot swelling; Leg swelling; Edema - peripheral, Peripheral edema
Definition Return to topAbnormal buildup of fluid in the ankles, feet, and legs is called peripheral edema.
Considerations Return to top
Painless swelling of the feet and ankles is a common problem, particularly in older people. It may affect both legs and may include the calves or even the thighs. Because of the effect of gravity, swelling is particularly noticeable in these locations.
Common Causes Return to top
Foot, leg, and ankle swelling is common with the following situations:
Other conditions that can cause swelling to one or both legs include:
Certain medications may also cause your legs to swell:
Home Care Return to top
Call your health care provider if Return to top
Call 911 if:
Call your doctor right away if:
Also call your doctor if self care measures do not help or swelling worsens.
What to expect at your health care provider's office Return to top
Your doctor will take a medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination, with special attention to your heart, lungs, abdomen, legs, and feet.
Your doctor will ask questions like the following:
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include the following:benign causes of leg swelling should be tried before drug therapy under medical supervision.
Prevention Return to topAvoid sitting or standing without moving for prolonged periods of time. When flying, stretch your legs often and get up to walk when possible. When driving, stop to stretch and walk every hour or so. Avoid wearing restrictive clothing or garters around your thighs. Exercise regularly. Lose weight if you need to.
Update Date: 9/21/2003
pitting edema; dependent edema; generalized swelling; edema; anasarca
Excessive build-up of fluid in the tissues, or an increase in tissue mass. Swelling can occur throughout the body (generalized swelling) or swelling can be limited to a specific part of the body.
This document primarily discusses overall swelling. See the specific documents listed in the definition for information that is specific to swelling in a specific location.
Slight edema of the legs commonly occurs in warm summer months.
Generalized swelling or massive edema (also called anasarca) is a common sign in severely ill people. While slight edema may be difficult to detect, especially in an overweight person, massive edema is very obvious.
Very often, widespread edema is both long-term and progressive and the causes vary significantly.
Edema may be pitting (when pressing a finger against a swollen area for 10 seconds and then quickly removing it, an indentation is left that fills slowly) or nonpitting (when pressing a finger against a swollen area for 10 seconds and then quickly removing it, no indentation is left in the skin).
Follow prescribed therapy to treat the underlying cause of the edema. Discuss with your health care provider the options to prevent skin breakdown (for chronic edema) such as a pressure mattress, lamb's wool pad, or flotation ring.
Maintain everyday activities. Walk rather than stand. Stand or lie rather than sit. When lying down, keep limbs above the heart level, if possible, to facilitate drainage. Do not do this if shortness of breath results.
Massage swollen areas regularly, particularly if edema has formed around the hip, buttocks, or back.
Reduced sodium (salt) in the diet may be recommended.
Lymphedema is commonly thought of as swelling of the arm that can occur after breast cancer treatment. However, this condition can affect both men and women who are treated for other types of cancer, as well. Besides the arm, lymphedema most often involves the lower extremity — the leg.
Lymphedema is swelling, caused by the buildup of lymph in the tissues. Lymph is the fluid that carries immune cells (mostly lymphocytes) throughout the body. It is similar to a "highway" for your immune system. Tiny, bean-shaped organs called lymph nodes make lymph and filter bacteria and other harmful substances. They can be compared to "rest stops" for your immune cells. When the lymph nodes are removed, there is a backup of lymph into the surrounding tissues. Lymphedema can be very uncomfortable and sometimes painful. It can also delay the healing of wounds and raise the risk of infection near the swelling.
Causes and risk factors
Common causes of leg lymphedema include the following:
Lymphedema can develop days or weeks after cancer treatment. Often, it occurs months or years later. Sometimes, lymphedema is not related to cancer or its treatment. For instance, infection or injury to the lymph nodes may cause this problem.
Risk factors for lymphedema include having many lymph nodes removed or damaged during cancer treatment, being overweight or inactive, and having a past leg infection or injury.
See complete article:
Introduction: Parts of the body may swell in response to injury, infection or disease, or because of an underlying lump. Swelling can also occur if the body is not circulating fluid well (especially ankle swelling). Generalized swelling from fluid retention is called edema. Lymph nodes may swell in response to infection (see swollen lymph nodes). Any type of swelling symptom needs prompt professional medical diagnosis
Detailed cause information for symptom: Swelling symptoms:
Types of Swelling
swelling (70), swollen
spleen (36), eyelid
swelling (11), swollen
lymph nodes (56), neck
swelling (30), breast
swelling (11), joint
swelling (22), leg
swelling (37), knee
swelling (11), ankle
swelling (22), hand
swelling (16), face
swelling (17), swollen
testes (8), jaw
swelling (7), swollen
glands (56), brain
Symptoms: symptom center, symptom groups
Causes of symptom: Swelling symptoms: The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Swelling symptoms as a symptom. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.
Some possible causes of a swollen limb include:
information for symptom: Swelling symptoms:
Pub Med - Links to Articles on Leg Swelling
WHAT IS IT?
Lymphedema is a buildup of a fluid called lymph and protein in the tissues under the skin. Lymph accumulates when there is an obstruction to normal flow causing swelling, usually in an arm or leg. The lymph system is similar to the blood system in its network of vessels that carry lymph fluid throughout the body.
Trauma to lymphatic tissue by surgery or radiotherapy is the main cause of lymphedema in the context of cancer. It can result from surgery and/or radiation therapy during treatment for cancers of the breast, abdomen, melanoma, connective tissues (sarcomas) and the pelvic area, as well as lymphomas, in both men and women. Lymphedema may also be the result of infection, such as dermatophytosis in the foot.
Cancer tumors also can block the lymph vessels, especially in people with prostate cancer or lymphoma.
IF I HAVE CANCER WILL I DEVELOP LYMPHEDEMA?
Not necessarily. The most frequent cases occur in women with breast cancer; 10% to 25% of breast cancer patients will develop lymphedema. While most cases are mild, approximately 400,000 women cope daily with some degree of disfigurement, discomfort, and sometimes disability because of arm and hand swelling.
Because of improvements in radiation and surgical techniques (such as removing smaller samples of lymph nodes), lymphedema is less common today than it use to be. Lymphedema develops in about one in four breast cancer patients who have a mastectomy with lymph-node dissection. The risk doubles for those who also receive radiation treatments to the underarm area.
Radical prostatectomy, a procedure that removes the prostate gland, seminal vesicles and sometimes the nearby pelvic lymph nodes, can lead to lymphedema .One type of Kaposi’s sarcoma is called the lymphadenopathic form that can spread throughout the body and may aggressively involve lymph nodes, viscera, and occasionally the GI tract – resulting in a kind of lymphedema.
SENTINEL LYMPH NODE BIOPSY
If breast cancer spreads, it first goes to the lymph nodes under the arm. That's why women with breast cancer have these nodes examined. Until recently, surgeons would remove as many lymph nodes as possible, but this greatly increased the risk of lymphedema. More recently, a growing number of physicians have begun focusing on finding the sentinel nodes — the first nodes to receive the drainage from breast tumors and therefore the first to show evidence of cancer’s spread. Experts believe that if a sentinel node is removed and found to be healthy, then the chance of finding cancer in any of the remaining nodes is very small and no other nodes need to be removed. This spares as many as 75% of women who have no evidence of tumor spread to the axillary nodes the risk of complications, especially lymphedema.
WHEN DOES IT DEVELOP?
Lymphedema can appear any time after surgery or radiation treatment including many years later.
When the condition develops very soon after surgery, it is usually mild, and goes away within one to two weeks. It can also develop six to eight weeks after surgery or radiation. Again, this type of lymphedema usually goes away in a few weeks.
Unfortunately, the more common form of lymphedema in cancer survivors develops slowly over time. It may show up many months or even years after treatment ends and swelling can range from mild to severe. In most cases however, lymphedema appears between six and 12 months after treatment. While people who have many lymph nodes removed and radiation therapy have the highest risk of developing lymphedema, some high-risk patients won’t develop the condition.
WHEN TO CALL A PROFESSIONAL
Patients should contact a physician if they had a mastectomy, lower abdominal surgery or radiation treatments in the past, and the affected limb becomes red, painful or hot, or if it develops open sores or areas of broken skin. Doctors should be consulted especially if there is a fever in addition to swelling.
Usually, no specific testing is necessary to diagnose lymphedema, but tests may be done such as a blood count that can identify signs of infection. Ultrasound may be ordered to look for blood clots, which can cause swelling. Computed tomography (CT) may be used to find a tumor that could be blocking lymph vessels. In addition, there are more specialized tests that can identify lymph flow and lymph vessel abnormalities.
The first signs of lymphedema can be a change in a patient’s arms or legs or other affected area such as the groin. Initially, skin will remain soft, but if the problem continues, the limb may become hot and red and the skin hard and stiff. The lymph fluid that collects in the tissues can be very uncomfortable, but pain is not always present. Early symptoms of lymphedema may include:
In most cases, only one arm or leg is affected. If the leg is involved, swelling usually begins at the foot, then progresses upward toward the ankle, calf and knee.
The severity is directly related to the extent of surgery and radiation treatment to the lymph nodes. Severity and general risk of developing lymphedema seems to increase with obesity, weight gain and infection in the affected area.
Lymphedema has no cure so treatment focuses on reducing the symptoms. Treatment has varied from virtually no treatment to surgery, but there are various practical methods to deal with the condition, including elevation of the limb (in the first year only), compression garments (no greater than 20-30 mm Hg), certain types of massage and exercises, pneumatic compression devices (controversial), and other types of physical therapy. Experts also recommend keeping the affected limb clean, dry and lubricated.
The National Lymphedema Network (www. Lymphnet.org) encourages massage by an specially certified expert in lymphedema massage.. In many cases, patients can also be trained to massage themselves to improve the flow of lymph fluids.
There are no medications to treat lymphedema. Diuretics have been found to be ineffective and may actually exacerbate the condition. Other medicines have been tried, but there is no clear evidence of significant effectiveness with any particular drug.
arm or leg above the level of the
heart(during the first year) and flexing it frequently are basic
manage the condition. Since elevation is impractical except for short
patients should be fitted with an elastic sleeve, covering the arm or
A significant reduction in edema (swelling) has been reported after wearing elastic sleeves for 6 consecutive hours per day. Using these garments during exercise, physical activity, and especially air travel is recommended, since air travel seems to exacerbate the condition.
If the legs are affected, avoid periods of prolonged standing. If working or standing a lot, a doctor may prescribe special graduated compression stockings to wear throughout the day. A doctor may also suggest a protein-rich, low-salt diet for those who are over-weight or obese.
MODERATE TO SEVERE:
For people with moderate to severe lymphedema in the legs, doctors prescribe pneumatic compression devices to be used at home to help reduce limb swelling. The “pneumatic stockings” are worn every day for an hour or two to reduce the swelling. Once the swelling has been reduced, a person may still need to wear elastic stockings up to the knee every day from the moment of rising until bedtime.
For lymphedema in the arm, pneumatic sleeves--like pneumatic stockings--can be used every day to reduce the swelling; elastic sleeves may also be needed.
Others recommend a special type of massage therapy called manual lymph drainage. Antibiotics also may be prescribed to prevent or treat infection in the affected limb. Since skin infections can be more serious in people with lymphedema, a person may need to have antibiotics administered intravenously in the hospital during an infection.
Complex Decongestive Therapy
More serious cases of lymphedema can be treated with Complex Decongestive Therapy by a physical therapist or other health care professional, who has special training. Complex Decongestive Therapy consists of skin care, massage, special bandaging, exercise, and fitting for a compression sleeve. Seeking and getting treatment early should lead to a shorter course of treatment to get the lymphedema under control. While most insurance companies will pay for this treatment, some do not.
certified in the procedure should perform
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD).
In the case of lymphedema of the arm, the procedure involves a type of massage that moves built up fluid around the blocked vessels and across the chest to the other side of the body where the lymphatic system is still in tact. Usually the healthy area will be “worked” first. After each treatment, the effected area is carefully bandaged with a special layered wrap that looks like an ace bandage but is made of a different fabric. The wrap is important for keeping the effected limb de-congested. An average course is 15 daily treatments of 60 to 90 minutes each. After a MLD course of treatments, the patients will wear a compression garment every day. The patient should be measured for a new compression sleeve every six months or so. Sometimes a yearly MLD treatment course is recommended as a kind of “tune up.”
lymphedema development may occur even
after several decades, patients should monitor themselves for signs of
lymphedema and report any changes to their physicians.
Prevention is important and can require daily attention to manage the symptoms of swelling in particular. Arm and hand precautions are based on two key ideas: (1) Do not increase lymph production, which is directly proportional to blood flow, and (2) do not increase blockage to lymph system. Therefore, patients should avoid excessive heat, infections, and overly-strenuous arm exercises which would increase blood flow in the arm and thereby increase lymph production.
Patients should follow these suggestions to manage their lymphedema:
It is important to use your affected limb for normal everyday activities, yet overuse can cause lymphedema to occur in some people. Follow these suggestions whenever possible:
For More Information
American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society held an international conference on lymphedema in 1998 in New York City. It involved 60 of the world’s leading experts and included a forum of more than 250 breast cancer survivors, leaders of breast cancer advocacy groups, and others. The conference report plus a lymphedema resource guide are available as a book from the ACS at cancer.org. (See below for title.)
National Lymphedema Network
Lymphedema Network is a charitable
organization with an international scope. Founded in 1988, the
mission is to provide education and guidance to patients and health
professionals. The Network promotes standardizing quality treatment for
lymphedema patients. In addition, the organization supports research
causes and possible alternative treatments for this “often
Link no longer available - see Cancerpage.com
Raised Leg Exercises to Reduce Leg Swelling
Lymphedema People New Wiki Pages
you seen our new “Wiki”
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below are just a
sample of the more than 140 pages now listed in our Wiki section. We
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and Pain Management
Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT)
Associated with Lymphedema
to Treat a Lymphedema Wound
Infections Associated with
para-aortic lymph node dissection (EPLND)
Needle Biopsy - Fine Needle Aspiration
Lymphedema Gene VEGFC
Lymphedema Gene SOX18
Comparison of Edema versus Lymphedema
Edema and Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Edema and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Edema and Venous Pooling
Edema and Angioedema
Edema of the Neck
Edema and Nephrotic Syndrome
Edema of the Face
Edema and Thrombophlebitis
Edema and Diabetes
Edema and Congestive Heart Failure
Men with Lymphedema
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The time has come for families, parents, caregivers to have a support group of their own. Support group for parents, families and caregivers of chilren with lymphedema. Sharing information on coping, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. Sponsored by Lymphedema People.
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Support group for parents, patients, children who suffer from all forms of lymphangiectasia. This condition is caused by dilation of the lymphatics. It can affect the intestinal tract, lungs and other critical body areas.
Disorders Support Group @ Yahoo Groups
While we have a number of support groups for lymphedema... there is nothing out there for other lymphatic disorders. Because we have one of the most comprehensive information sites on all lymphatic disorders, I thought perhaps, it is time that one be offered.
Information and support for rare and unusual disorders affecting the lymph system. Includes lymphangiomas, lymphatic malformations, telangiectasia, hennekam's syndrome, distichiasis, Figueroa
syndrome, ptosis syndrome, plus many more. Extensive database of information available through sister site Lymphedema People.
About Lymphangiectasia Yahoo Support Group
Support group for parents, patients, children who suffer from all forms of lymphangiectasia. This condition is caused by dilation of the lymphatics. It can affect the intestinal tract, lungs and other critical body areas.
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This page updated Dec. 29, 2011