Speaking of Lymphedema, we are referring to an abnormal accumulation of lymph fluid. This is a pathological condition where the lymph vessels are small, deformed and not functional, making it insufficient to remove the normal lymphatic load.
Lymphedema is either generalized or affects specific anatomical regions. It is manageable, while its early diagnosis determines its outcome.
Stages of Lymphedema
Mild pitting edema, without significant tissue change. This is an automatically reversible stage, as elevating the limb is enough to reduce swelling.
This is a spontaneous irreversible lymphedema that requires special treatment. Proliferation of connective and adipose tissue is detected. The skin appears deep skin folds, nail growth is disturbed, while the immune system is weakened.
This is the stage of lymphostatic elephantiasis. The patient’s limb shows intense pigmentation, increased skin thickening and recurrent erysipelas.
The method of treatment is conservative and the modern treatment that is applied is the complete decongestive therapy (CDT). This includes a number of interventions such as: manual lymphatic drainage, compression bandage, physiotherapy, skin care, suctioning, regulation of body weight and maintenance of treatment effect.
During the 1st phase, where the swelling is decongested, it is considered necessary to treat the patient daily (except Sunday) for a period of 3-6 weeks. After each session, the patient applies the lymph compression bandages until the next session. When the swelling is decongested in a percentage of 70-80% it passes to the 2nd phase of management.
During the 2nd phase, the initial results are maintained and improved. As there is a tendency for relapse, the patient’s self-preservation is considered imperative. Therapeutic interventions of the initial phase are reused and modified accordingly, continuously. In severe cases their application is indicated 3-4 times/week, while in more mild cases the treatment is limited to its execution every 10-14 days.