What is Lymphedema mean? Definition of Lymphedema in Legs, Feet, Arm, Neck, and Breast

Lymphedema is a chronic condition characterized by swelling in various parts of the body, most commonly in the legs, feet, arms, neck, and breast. This swelling occurs due to the accumulation of lymphatic fluid when the lymphatic system is damaged or blocked. Understanding lymphedema, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, including surgery, is essential for managing this condition effectively.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a chronic condition characterized by the abnormal accumulation of lymph fluid in various parts of the body, including the legs, feet, arms, neck, and breast. This condition can cause significant swelling and discomfort, impacting daily life and mobility. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for lymphedema is essential for managing this condition effectively .

What is lymphedema and what causes it?

Lymphedema occurs when the lymphatic system, which is responsible for draining excess fluid from tissues and maintaining fluid balance, is disrupted. This disruption can result from congenital abnormalities (primary lymphedema) or damage to the lymphatic system due to surgery, radiation, infection, or trauma (secondary lymphedema). When the lymphatic system fails to function properly, fluid accumulates in the affected areas, leading to swelling and other symptoms .

What is Lymphedema in Legs?

Lymphedema in the legs is a common manifestation of this condition, causing significant swelling, heaviness, and discomfort in the lower extremities. This form of lymphedema can severely impact mobility and quality of life if not managed properly .

What causes lymphedema in legs?

Lymphedema in the legs can be caused by various factors, including surgical removal of lymph nodes, radiation therapy, infections, and injuries. Additionally, conditions such as chronic venous insufficiency and obesity can exacerbate the risk of developing lymphedema in the legs .

What is Lymphedema in the Feet?

Lymphedema in the feet involves swelling and fluid retention in the feet, often accompanied by discomfort and difficulty in wearing shoes. This condition can make walking and standing for extended periods challenging .

What causes lymphedema in the feet?

The causes of lymphedema in the feet are similar to those in the legs, including lymphatic system damage due to surgery, radiation, infections, and trauma. Poor circulation and prolonged immobility can also contribute to the development of lymphedema in the feet .

What is Lymphedema in the Arm?

Lymphedema in the arm is commonly associated with breast cancer treatment, where lymph nodes are removed or damaged during surgery or radiation therapy. This form of lymphedema can lead to swelling, pain, and restricted movement in the affected arm .

What causes lymphedema in arms?

The primary cause of lymphedema in the arms is the disruption of lymphatic pathways due to surgical procedures or radiation therapy targeting lymph nodes. Infections and injuries can also damage the lymphatic vessels, leading to fluid accumulation in the arms .

What is Lymphedema in the Neck?

Lymphedema in the neck involves swelling and fluid retention in the neck region, which can cause discomfort and affect breathing and swallowing. This condition often occurs after head and neck cancer treatments .

What causes lymphedema in the neck?

Lymphedema in the neck is typically caused by surgical removal of lymph nodes or radiation therapy targeting the neck area. Infections and trauma can also contribute to the development of lymphedema in this region .

What is Lymphedema in the Breast?

Lymphedema in the breast involves swelling and fluid retention in the breast tissue, often occurring after breast cancer treatments. This condition can cause discomfort, heaviness, and changes in the appearance of the breast .

What causes lymphedema in the breast?

The primary causes of lymphedema in the breast are surgical removal of lymph nodes and radiation therapy targeting the breast area. Infections and injuries can also damage the lymphatic vessels, leading to fluid accumulation in the breast tissue .

What is Lymphedema Symptoms?

Lymphedema symptoms vary depending on the affected area but generally include swelling, heaviness, discomfort, and restricted movement. Other symptoms may include skin changes, recurrent infections, and a feeling of tightness in the affected region .

What causes lymphedema symptoms?

Lymphedema symptoms are caused by the accumulation of lymph fluid in the tissues, resulting from the disruption of normal lymphatic drainage. Factors contributing to these symptoms include damage to the lymphatic system, infections, and inflammation .

What is lymphedema surgery?

Lymphedema surgery aims to reduce swelling and improve lymphatic drainage in affected areas. Surgical options may include lymph node transfer, lymphaticovenous anastomosis, and liposuction. These procedures are designed to restore lymphatic function and alleviate the symptoms of lymphedema, enhancing the patient’s quality of life .


  1. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Lymphedema. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lymphedema/symptoms-causes/syc-20374682
  2. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Lymphedema: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14458-lymphedema
  3. National Health Service (NHS). (n.d.). Lymphedema. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lymphoedema/
  4. American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Lymphedema. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/lymphedema.html
  5. National Lymphedema Network. (n.d.). Lymphedema Overview. Retrieved from https://lymphnet.org/lymphedema-overview
  6. Lymphatic Education & Research Network. (n.d.). Lymphedema in Legs. Retrieved from https://lymphaticnetwork.org/living-with-lymphedema/lymphedema-in-legs
  7. Macmillan Cancer Support. (n.d.). Causes of Lymphoedema. Retrieved from https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/impacts-of-cancer/lymphoedema
  8. Stanford Health Care. (n.d.). Lymphedema of the Feet. Retrieved from https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/skin/lymphedema/types/lymphedema-in-feet.html
  9. Lymph Notes. (n.d.). Foot Lymphedema. Retrieved from https://www.lymphnotes.com/article.php/id/111/
  10. Breastcancer.org. (n.d.). Lymphedema in Arm. Retrieved from https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/lymphedema-in-arm
  11. MD Anderson Cancer Center. (n.d.). Understanding Lymphedema. Retrieved from https://www.mdanderson.org/patients-family/life-after-cancer/understanding-lymphedema.html
  12. Cancer Council. (n.d.). Lymphoedema and Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/living-with-cancer/lymphoedema-and-cancer
  13. Head and Neck Cancer Australia. (n.d.). Lymphoedema in Neck. Retrieved from https://www.headandneckcancer.org.au/about-head-and-neck-cancer/side-effects-of-treatment/lymphoedema
  14. Lymphedema Association of Australia. (n.d.). Causes of Neck Lymphedema. Retrieved from https://lymphoedema.org.au/about-lymphoedema/what-is-lymphoedema/
  15. Macmillan Cancer Support. (n.d.). Neck Lymphoedema. Retrieved from https://www.macmillan.org.uk/cancer-information-and-support/impacts-of-cancer/lymphoedema-in-the-neck
  16. Breast Cancer Network Australia. (n.d.). Breast Lymphoedema. Retrieved from https://www.bcna.org.au/understanding-breast-cancer/lymphoedema/
  17. Lymphatic Research & Education Institute. (n.d.). Lymphedema After Breast Cancer. Retrieved from https://www.lymphaticresearch.org/lymphedema-after-breast-cancer/
  18. Healthline. (n.d.). Lymphedema in Breast. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/lymphedema
  19. WebMD. (n.d.). Lymphedema Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/lymphedema
  20. National Institutes of Health (NIH). (n.d.). Lymphedema Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.nih.gov/lymphedema
  21. Lymphoedema Support Network. (n.d.). Symptoms of Lymphoedema. Retrieved from https://www.lymphoedema.org/understanding-lymphoedema/symptoms/
  22. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (n.d.). Lymphedema Surgery. Retrieved from https://www.plasticsurgery.org/reconstructive-procedures/lymphedema-surgery

Leave a Comment