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Commonwealth Vein Center

Vascular, Vein and Wound Specialists & Cardiologists located in Colonial Heights, VA & Richmond, VA, & McLean, VA

Though symptoms vary from mild to severe, the swelling associated with lymphedema can affect your physical and emotional health. However, an early diagnosis and effective treatment plan may help limit your lymphedema symptoms. At Commonwealth Vein Center in Colonial Heights, Richmond, and McLean, Virginia, the team of vein and vascular experts specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of lymphedema and can develop a treatment plan to help you manage the chronic condition. Call the office nearest you to schedule a consultation or book one online today.

Lymphedema Q & A

What is lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a chronic health condition that causes swelling due to the buildup of lymphatic fluid in your body. 

Your lymphatic system is a crucial part of your immune system that circulates a protein-rich fluid to collect bacteria, viruses, and waste from all over your body. Your lymph nodes filter the harmful substances from the fluid and eliminate them from your body.

If your lymph vessels are unable to properly drain the lymph fluid, it collects in the body and causes tissue swelling. Though the swelling and edema may develop in any part of your body, it most often affects the legs and arms.

There are two types of lymphedema:

Primary lymphedema

Primary lymphedema is an inherited condition that affects the structure and function of your lymphatic system, which leads to poor fluid drainage.

Secondary lymphedema

An injury or an obstruction to the lymphatic system causes secondary lymphedema, and it is more common than primary lymphedema. 

What are lymphedema symptoms?

Swelling in part or all of your arms or legs, including the hands and feet, is the most common symptom of lymphedema. Other symptoms include:

  • Decreased range of motion
  • Aching or discomfort
  • Scaly, thick skin
  • Heaviness or tightness in the affected limb
  • Frequent infections

The severity of the symptoms and swelling varies significantly. In some people, lymphedema may go unnoticed, while in others, the swelling is so extreme it limits mobility. 

How is lymphedema diagnosed?

The vein and vascular specialists at Commonwealth Vein Center conduct comprehensive examinations to diagnose lymphedema. 

During your evaluation, the team reviews your symptoms, medical history, and family history. In some cases, the team may be able to provide a definitive diagnosis based on the information provided.

However, if your symptoms are less obvious, the team may recommend diagnostic testing to confirm a diagnosis, such as an MRI, CT scan, or Doppler ultrasound. 

How is lymphedema treated?

Lymphedema is a progressive condition, but with the right treatment plan, you may be able to minimize symptoms. 

Commonwealth Vein Center develops individualized treatment plans for managing your lymphedema based on the severity of your symptoms and your medical history. Your treatment plan may include:

  • Light lymph massage to improve drainage
  • Compression stockings to support drainage and prevent infection
  • Exercise program
  • Referral to occupational, physical, or massage therapy

If your lymphedema doesn’t improve with conservative treatments, the team may suggest surgical procedures to improve your drainage system or remove excess fluid.

For comprehensive care for your lymphedema, call Commonwealth Vein Center to schedule an appointment or request one online today.