Lymphedema and Oedema: What’s the difference?

Lymphedema is a condition of localised fluid retention and tissue swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system. The lymphatic system normally returns interstitial fluid to the thoracic duct, then the bloodstream.

Lymphedema may be caused by injury to the lymphatic vessels. It is most frequently seen after lymph node dissection, surgery or radiation therapy, in which damage to the lymphatic system is caused during the treatment of cancer, most notably breast cancer.

Lymphedema treatment is a specialised area that requires additional training. However, understanding the difference between the two is integral in hand therapy to ensure the right treatment is being sought.

The use of special massage and compression garments are usually commonly used treatments prescribed by a trained professional.

Oedema

Oedema is characterised by excess fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body, which can occur after trauma to an area of the body.

Our therapists are trained to treat oedema. They have an understanding of our bodies’ inflammatory process and when each compression garments or wraps are appropriate. They can help with conservative techniques including gentle exercises to encourage movement without flaring up injured areas.

If you have any concerns about your lymphedema and oedema, please ask your therapist for appropriate assessment and treatment. Feel free to give us a call today!

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