What You Should Know About Lymphedema

March is Lymphedema Awareness Month.  Surprisingly, many people do not know what this condition is and how to get help, so here are some basic facts.

What You Should Know About Lymphedema

Lymphedema / chronic edema is a progressive chronic inflammatory disease that can affect all areas of the body, most commonly the limbs. It is estimated that up to one million Canadians suffer from this disease. However, most have not been diagnosed or treated. Early diagnosis and proper management is important.


The causes for this condition can be primary or secondary:

  • Primary – hereditary, congenital
  • Secondary – obesity, venous disease, many cancers and their treatments (lymph node dissection, radiation), surgical interventions, trauma, immobility, infection

Complications and Consequences of Inadequate Treatment

It is important to get treated for this condition as soon possible to minimize the risk of further injury or deterioration.  Here are some complications that can occur if you proper treatment is delayed:

  • Risk of recurrent bacterial cellulitis and sepsis in the affected limb
  • Changes in skin and tissue e.g. papillomata, thicken skin (pachydermia), dermatitis
  • Chronic wounds, lymphorrhea, lymph cysts
  • Limited functionality, work disability
  • Negative psychological/ body image/ social impact


The good part is that there are various treatment options available. Here the most recommended ones:

  • Investing in skin care by constantly cleansing, moisturizing and avoiding trauma to the skin.
  • Using short-stretch bandage systems and compression garments and devices
  • Exercising and weight control by committing to a decongestive exercise regime and eating healthy
  • Manual Lymph Drainage
  • Wearing compression garments such as an arm sleeve, glove or gauntlet

Nightingale Medical has Certified Compression Garment Fitters on staff who can recommend lymphatic compression products that can prevent or manage lymphedema.  Book a FREE fitting appointment today, or  learn more at https://nightingalemedical.ca/product-category/compression/