There are several reasons why the legs swell, but the likelihood that you have lymphedema increases if the swelling is limited to just one leg. Lymphedema symptoms can range from mild to severe, making it difficult to carry out regular tasks. The initial and most prevalent sign is swelling. The leg’s range of motion and ability to walk may be restricted as the edema grows. With all the extra fluid in the soft tissues, the skin might eventually become stiff and pigmented, which increases the risk of infections.
When the lymph vessels are clogged, lymphedema develops. In the circulatory system, lymph tubes move protein-containing fluid to move germs that the body will eventually dispose of rather than blood. The lymph nodes, which can be located in many body parts, are the other significant component of the lymphatic system.
Stages of Lymphedema
If lymphedema is not treated, it will advance through the following stages;
Your body is adjusting to the drop in lymph fluid circulation, so there are no outward signs of swelling or physical changes.
Although there is swelling, there hasn’t yet been any physical harm to the body.
Spontaneous irreversible lymphedema:
Surgery can restore skin health. However, fibrosis has caused the skin of the affected leg to thicken and stiffen.
There has been significant, disfiguring scarring and skin thickness.
Consult your doctor or a vascular surgeon with experience treating lymphedema, like Dr. Edward G. Mackay at Edward G. Mackay and Associates, LLC in Tampa Bay, Florida, if you have the condition.
Causes of Lymphoedema
Being born with short lymphatics is the most frequent cause of lymphoedema. A teenager or perhaps earlier may experience swelling if there aren’t many lymphatics. The name for this kind of lymphoedema is Milroy’s Disease. Sometimes only one leg is afflicted, and often one leg is worse than the other.
The lymphatics may initially be able to handle less severe cases, and they begin to deteriorate only as you age. This form is occasionally referred to as lymphoedema tarda.
Other Causes of Lymphoedema
Injuries to the lymphatics in the arm and leg from surgery or radiation therapy used to treat cancer can also result in lymphoedema. Additionally, a few uncommon tropical parasites (Filariasis) enter the lymphatics and obstruct them. In Britain, these parasites do not exist.
Symptoms of Lymphoedema
It’s likely that if you have lymphedema, you won’t feel pain in a particular location. If discomfort is felt at all, it is more likely to be a general achiness than a localized ache. Your symptoms may come and go, but they may also last for an extended period if nothing is done about them.
Lymphedema’s typical warning signs and symptoms include;
- A single leg’s swelling, frequently involving the toes
- Confined movement
- Discomfort or tightness
- Increasing the skin’s hardness or thickness
- Ongoing infections
Lymphedema frequently causes significant sections of the leg and foot to swell, including the toes, which helps distinguish it from deep vein thrombosis (DVT), resulting in only one leg. The toes are generally unaffected by DVT swelling.
Diagnosis of lymphedema
Lymphedema is often diagnosed using the following methods;
To conduct a test at home, the subject should;
- They take off their socks and shoes.
- Legs should remain close together while you lie on the ground.
- To put one hand on each hip, ask a friend or family member to lay their palms on the person’s hip bones.
- For around 60 seconds, ask assistance to gently rock the person’s hips from side to side. This movement aids in releasing stiff muscles.
- Ask the assistant to examine the person’s ankle bones for alignment.
A doctor may identify LLD using a variety of techniques. These consist of;
- Physical examination observation of the subject’s posture, gait, and other movements
- Gait evaluation
- By requesting the subject to stand on blocks of varying heights until the hips are level, an X-ray of the pelvis or legs can be used to determine the LLD.
- Legs’ soft tissue and bone on a CT scan
To determine whether the lymphatic system is malfunctioning, the doctor may also perform “lymphoscintigraphy.”
Treatment of Lymphedema
Lymphedema may keep recurring if the underlying source of the patient’s symptoms is not treated; in this instance, continuing efforts to minimize the swelling will be required to stop the condition from worsening. For example, rerouting lymph fluid through nearby functional lymphatic vessels may provide the best opportunity for long-term healing if lymphedema is brought on by a malfunctioning lymphatic vessel. Your doctor can keep an eye on the condition with routine visits.
But in most lymphedema patients, conservative methods devoid of surgery are the preferred course of action.
Your lymphedema treatment options include;
Compression: Bandages or specialized compression clothing can push fluid out of the leg and lessen edema.
- Massage: It is possible to do specialty massages to activate the lymphatic system and remove extra lymph fluid.
- Movement: Some workouts induce the muscles to contract the lymphatic ducts, causing fluid to move.
- Low-level laser therapy: Low-level laser therapy is a minimally invasive therapeutic strategy that can reduce scar tissue to ease symptoms, including skin tightness and limited movement. It is also thought to facilitate lymph fluid movement.
- Vein ablation: Vein ablation is a minimally invasive technique that can assist close off a dysfunctional lymphatic artery. Whether you qualify for this course of treatment is something you should discuss with Dr. Mackay.
- Additional surgical options: Surgery or liposuction to remove extra tissue may be advised in severe cases. Your doctor can suggest other surgical treatments, including lymphatic repair and venous bypass.
Even though there is no cure for lymphedema, early therapy can produce better results with fewer painful symptoms if you have one leg more significant than the other. Call your doctor immediately to learn more about your treatment choices and determine whether lymphedema is the root of your leg swelling.
Asymmetry is brought about by hemihyperplasia, which is the enlargement of one side or portion of the body. It indicates that one or more body parts are more prominent on one side of the body than on the opposite side. For instance, one side of the body may appear more significant than the other, or one leg may appear longer and thicker than the other leg.
Overgrowth of soft tissue or bone is to blame for the bulge.
Bone differences can be measured using an x-ray. Soft tissue growth can be challenging to measure precisely.
The circulatory system includes the lymphatic system. Instead of moving blood, it moves lymph, the body’s protein-rich fluid.
The primary function of the lymph is to collect bacteria and viruses, which are then removed through lymph nodes, and dispersed all over the body, including those in the neck. Anywhere in the body, but most frequently in a single arm or leg, can impede this fluid movement.