Lymphedema and Venous Ulcer – Philadelphia

What is lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a buildup of protein in the fluid within tissues. Normally, the fluid travels freely in the lymphatic system and through lymph nodes. But these channels can become blocked, leading to swelling and ineffective lymph flow.

Chronic leg swelling is usually considered both a lymph problem and a vein problem. It’s common in patients with other vein issues. Aside from swelling, other symptoms include heaviness or discomfort, infections, and thickened skin. Another interesting sign is the inability to grasp the skin at the base of the second toe, or “Stemmer’s sign”.

With lymphedema, early diagnosis and treatment are key. After achieving the goal of controlling limb size, treatment focuses on education to use wraps and devices for maintenance.

What is a venous ulcer?

According to the journal Vascular Medicine, venous leg ulcers affect 1.5% of the general population and up to 5% of the elderly population. They are breaks in the skin that commonly occur on the ankle or calf. It’s also common for these ulcers to have debris and leak or “weep,” yet be completely painless.

If the extra pressure in the veins is not reduced, the ulcer is unlikely to heal. Proper treatment can prevent more ulcers from forming and might work to heal existing ulcers more quickly.

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