Do your arms or legs constantly feel swollen and heavy? Are your legs distinctly larger than your upper body and even gentle touches feel painful?
Then you might ask yourself whether lymphedema or lipedema is responsible for your problems. With our lymphedema/lipedema self-test, we would like to help you gain a better understanding of your problems.
HAVE YOU BEEN DIAGNOSED ALREADY? »
Have you recently been diagnosed with lymphedema or lipedema by your physician? Or was it a little while ago perhaps? Then you’re in the right place.
Find out everything about possible treatment options and how you can still live a happy life despite lipedema or lymphedema.
At Bauerfeind, we will not leave you to deal with your condition alone, but we want to give you the support you need.
Comparing lymphedema and lipedema Everything you need to know about edema
In addition to the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system is the second important circulatory organ in the body. It transports waste products and ensures fluids are drained from the tissue. Lymphedema is a lymph drainage disorder that results in the lymphatic fluid (lymph) pooling in the tissue. If left untreated, lymphedema will continue to progress. At some point, the tissue will become hardened, the skin will be taut, and those affected will be severely restricted in their mobility. In addition, the risk of infection will rise. It is therefore indispensable to treat the impaired lymphatic drainage.
Lymphedema can develop anywhere in the body, though it is most common in the arms and legs. The onset of the condition can be gradual. You should therefore keep an eye on your body and make a note of any changes.
Possible signs of lymphedema include:
- a feeling of water in the legs, heavy legs
- swollen feet, ankles, legs, arms or other body parts
- feelings of heaviness and tension
- pressure-sensitive skin
- cellulitis, dents in the skin
- noticeable indentation from clothing or accessories
- reduced flexibility and mobility
Do some of these symptoms apply to you but you haven’t got a diagnosis from a physician yet? Then our self-test can provide an initial assessment whether you may be suffering from lymphedema.
A distinction is made between primary and secondary lymphedema.
Primary lymphedema is a congenital lymph drainage disorder. If there are not enough lymph vessels or they are too narrow, if vascular walls are too wide, lymph nodes are hardened or missing, lymphedema can be the result. Only one in three patients suffers from this type of lymphedema, which affects the legs in more than 90 per cent of cases. Primary lymphedema can develop on one side as well as on both sides. It is mainly women who are affected – usually already at a young age.
Secondary lymphedema occurs later on in life and is not hereditary. Swelling close to the body’s center is usually the start of the condition, with subsequent spreading to areas further away. A particularly common cause for secondary lymphedema is cancer (especially breast cancer) and treatment associated with it – such as removal of lymph nodes or radiation therapy. However, accidents, inflammation, parasites or injuries can also damage the lymphatic system. In addition, in patients suffering from lipedema, the increased pressure in the legs can have a detrimental effect on the lymph vessels. Many lipedema patients will therefore develop impaired lymphatic drainage sooner or later. In this case, we refer to it as lipedema with secondary lymphedema or a stage IV lipedema.
As mentioned above, lymphedema is a lymph drainage disorder. It causes intense and painful swelling, commonly in the arms or legs. Lipedema, on the other hand, is a painful fat distribution disorder that almost exclusively occurs in women. This condition mainly affects the thighs, hips, buttocks and arms. While exercise and a healthy diet will cause the upper body to get slimmer, the arms and legs will remain unchanged. The patient’s proportions become increasingly uneven over time. Specific hormonal phases, such as puberty or pregnancy, usually lead to a significant increase in the development of fat deposits.
|Swelling caused by lymphatic fluid is asymmetrical.||Increase of fat tissue is symmetrical.|
|Pressure and touch are usually not painful.||Pressure and touch are painful.|
|Hands and feet can be affected.||Hands and feet show no edema.|
|Bruises occur to a normal extent.||Bruises occur to an unusual extent.|
|The skin is prone to inflammation, leading to erysipelas in the worst cases.||Inflammation and skin irritation are rare but may occur when compression garments are worn.|
|If a thumb is pressed into the swelling, an indentation will remain.||If a thumb is pressed into the swelling, no indentation will remain.|
What can help in cases of lymphedema? Complex decongestive therapy (CDT) is the most effective method for treating lymphedema. It consists of two phases and is based on five pillars.
The phases of CDT:
- Phase 1 – decongestion: Daily manual lymphatic drainage and lymphological compression bandages help to decongest the affected limbs and reduce their circumference. This phase usually takes several weeks. Only when the maximum reduction of the circumference in the affected body regions has been achieved can the maintenance phase begin.
- Phase 2 – maintenance: The objective is to maintain the outcome of the decongestion phase. The measures required for this (in accordance with the five pillars of CDT) are applied for the patient’s whole life. The curaflow app developed by us helps and motivates those affected. During the maintenance phase, the compression bandage is replaced with a medical compression stocking or sleeve.
The five pillars of CDT:
- Pillar 1 – lymphatic drainage: A special lymph massage promotes the removal of fluid from the swollen tissue. During this process, a physiotherapist carefully massages the lymph into healthy areas, from where it can be drained. Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) should be carried out several times per week. An IPC device can be a great addition for home use. In this system, arms or legs are surrounded by cuffs with air cells that are inflated. This generates pressure that decongests the tissue and stimulates lymph flow. Patients can also find exercises to stimulate their own lymphatic system in the curaflow app. But neither an IPC device nor the curaflow app can replace MLD.
- Pillar 2 – compression therapy: During the decongestion phase, a lymphological compression bandage is put on after each lymphatic drainage. During the maintenance phase, flat-knit medical compression stockings or sleeves are used. Outward skin elasticity is limited by compression treatment for lymphedema. This prevents further fluid accumulation. In addition, every movement promotes interaction between muscles, skin and external pressure. This gentle massage improves the removal of waste products. For the best treatment result, medical compression stockings should be worn every day from morning till evening.
- Pillar 3 – movement exercises: Exercise is an important part of lymphedema treatment. Depending on the type and location of the lymphedema, targeted decongestion exercises and training sessions can improve mobility and reduce swelling. Patients can find the relevant exercises to stimulate their own lymphatic system in the curaflow app. In addition, yoga, walking, Nordic walking and aqua aerobics with their flowing movements are effective exercises in cases of lymphedema.
- Pillar 4 – skin care: Lymphedema patients’ skin is particularly sensitive. It is prone to dryness, itching, infections, inflammation and impaired wound healing. That is why skin care, for example using moisturizing body lotions, plays an important role in the treatment of lymphedema.
- Pillar 5 – self-management: Lymphedema cannot be healed. Treatment must therefore continue for the patient’s entire life. Patients need a lot of motivation and discipline for this. The curaflow app can support them with motivating messages, tips about how to wear compression products, weekly goals, a diary and a calendar. In-depth education about the condition and training related to treatment options are critical. Psychological support, self-help groups or treatment at a specialist rehab center can also help.
FIND OUT EVEN MORE ABOUT LYMPHEDEMA OR LIPEDEMA
Your compression therapy Maximum comfort. Maximum quality of life.
Continuous wearing of compression products is a critical component of complex decongestive therapy. That is why we only use high-quality, gentle materials for our products that will make wearing them every day as pleasant as possible. Once you have been prescribed a compression product by your physician, and your medical retailer has advised you and taken your measurements, your product will be custom-made for you. The curaflow app will then provide you with many useful tips about your compression garment.
Whether you need a product for your leg, arm or thorax, the VenoTrain curaflow will ensure noticeable relief and shaping of the body region affected by lymphedema, lipedema or lipo-lymphedema. It reduces painful tension, supports ideal lymph transport with its smart longitudinal structure and counteracts further accumulations. Smooth microfibers make donning easier, the breathable knitted fabric increases wearing comfort, and the extra soft popliteal area and arm zones offer uninhibited mobility. At Bauerfeind, we want you to live an active life.
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