Lymphoedema Outpatient Clinic

What is Lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is a long term condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues, due to lymphatic fluid accumulating. This can happen in any part of the body, but it is more common in arms and legs. It is important that lymphoedema is treated as early as possible, as it can get worse and become extremely uncomfortable.  

Lymphoedema develops when the lymphatic system does not work properly. The lymphatic system is a network of channels and glands throughout the body that helps fight infection and remove excess fluid.

There are 2 main types of lymphoedema:

  • primary lymphoedema – caused by faulty genes that affect the development of the lymphatic system; it can develop at any age, but usually starts during infancy, adolescence, or early adulthood.
  • secondary lymphoedema – caused by damage to the lymphatic system or problems with the movement and drainage of fluid in the lymphatic system; it can be the result of a cancer treatment, an infection, injury, inflammation of the limb, or a lack of limb movement.

Lymphoedema Symptoms

The main symptom of lymphoedema is the swelling of a part of the body, usually a limb but it can affect anywhere. This can make it difficult to fit into clothes and things like jewellery and watches become tight to wear.

At first, the swelling may come and go. It may get worse during the day and go down overnight. Without treatment, it will usually become more severe and persistent.

There are however other symptoms and these can include: 

  • an aching, heavy feeling
  • difficulty with movement
  • repeated skin infections
  • hard, tight skin
  • folds developing in the skin
  • wart-like growths developing on the skin
  • fluid leaking through the skin

Lymphoedema Treatment

Unfortunately there is no cure for lymphoedema, but patients at Saint Catherine’s are offered treatments to ease swelling and improve quality of life.

Our lymphoedema nurses will assess patients to confirm a diagnosis of the condition. Patients will then be provided with the information they need to understand and manage their symptoms effectively through a range of tailored treatment plans.

Contact Us

Whether you’d like to ask us a question, need to raise a point or would like to leave us feedback, we’d love to hear from you! You can find our details at the top of every page or by visiting our contact page.

Lindsey Lister, our Lymphoedema Nurse Specialist

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