Lymphedema is a swelling of a body part caused by an accumulation of protein‑rich fluid, called lymph, in the tissue spaces.  It occurs most frequently in the limbs, but can present in the breast, head, neck, abdomen, and genitalia.  Even though lymphoedema is a chronic condition and there is no cure, with the appropriate treatment the swelling can be reduced, and a suitable maintenance programme can keep it under control.

What Causes Lymphoedema

Lymphoedema is essentially triggered by damage or disruption to lymph drainage, but there are many different causes of this damage, which fall into two categories:

Primary Lymphoedema

When lymphoedema occurs without any warnings; with no known interference to the lymphatic system from an outside source; it is called Primary Lymphoedema.

In these cases, it is assumed that the lymphatic system has failed to form properly in the first place so that it therefore possesses

Manual Lymphatic Drainage Siobhán Casey Loughbrickland Clinic & Dundalk Dublin wellness therapy clinic
Secondary Lymphoedema

When lymphoedema occurs and there is an identifiable cause arising outside the lymphatic system interfering with the lymph drainage, for example:

  • Damage to the lymphatic systemdue to the removal of lymph nodes, radiotherapy to lymph nodes, extensive scarring, or large wounds.
  • Advanced cancercausing a blockage in the lymphatic system.
  • Problems with veins, such as deep vein thrombosis.
  • Infectionssuch as cellulitis or filariasis (a parasitic infection carried by mosquitoes in some African and Asian countries).
  • Inflammationincluding rheumatoid arthritis and other long-term conditions.
  • Not being able to move arounddue to paralysis or neurological conditions.
  • Obesity, which is a major risk factor for lymphoedema.
The Early Signs Of Lymphoedema

The main symptom of lymphoedema is swelling in all or part of a limb or another part of the body. The early signs of lymphoedema include:

  • Swelling in part of your body. At first this may come and go, and it will often be worse at the end of the day, then go down overnight.
  • A feeling of heaviness, tightness, soreness or stiffness in the affected area.
  • Skin changes over time. For example, your skin may feel tight, shiny and taut.
  • Clothing or jewellery feeling tighter than usual.
It is important to recognise the early signs of lymphoedema. Early treatment for lymphoedema can help control swelling and stop it getting worse. 
Decongestive Lymphatic Therapy

Developing Lymphoedema can appear to be very overwhelming initially, Wellness Therapy Clinic helps support patients understand their lymphoedema diagnosis, establish sustainable management plans and prepare a self-care routine.  Acquiring an initial assessment at Wellness Therapy Clinic will comprise off photographs, measurements before and after treatment, progress reports for referring GP/consultant and measure/fit compression garments.

Decongestive Lymphatic Therapy is a combination of Manual Lymphatic Drainage with exercises, skincare and compression bandaging, helping reduce the size of the limb before prescribing/fitting for a compression garment.

Compression garments are a vital part of your Lymphoedema treatment and wearing your compression garment should become part of your daily routine, adapting effortlessly with your lifestyle.