Lymphoedema is swelling that develops because of a build-up of fluid in the body's tissues.This happens when the lymphatic system, which normally drains fluid away, isn't working properly.
Lymphoedema can occur in any part of the body, but is most likely to affect an arm or a leg. It develops when lymph nodes or vessels are damaged or blocked. Lymph fluid is unable to pass through the vessels and lymph nodes. Because the fluid can’t drain away in a normal way, the lymphatic system becomes overloaded and fluid builds up between the tissues and causes swelling.
Lymphoedema is a chronic swelling. That means it is a condition that never goes away because the causes can’t be reversed. However, it can be reduced in most people, and the swelling can often be kept to a minimum, particularly when it’s diagnosed early. Learning how to manage it yourself is a major part of treatment.
Tips for the self-management of lymphoedema
Macmillan has worked together with the Health and Social Care Alliance in Scotland to create some top tips to help you manage lymphoedema.