Lymphoedema is a type of chronic oedema where the lymphatics have been damaged (secondary lymphoedema) or there is congenital malformation of the lymphatics. (primary lymphoedema). The main cause of secondary lymphoedema is the treatment of cancer namely surgical removal of or radiotherapy damage to the lymph nodes.

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Please note there is another condition which mainly affects adult women called Lipoedema which can sometimes be wrongly diagnosed as lymphoedema. This is a chronic progressive disorder of the adipose tissue. It mostly affects the lower half of the body but can in some cases be found in the upper arms. Weight is gained on hips and thighs and below knee which is usually bilateral and symmetrical. This group of patients often complain of tenderness/pain and easy bruising in the affected areas. The feet appear normal and unaffected. As the condition progresses the patient may develop some overlying oedema of the affected limbs.

Treatment for lipoedema – compression hosiery may help but not always tolerated. Healthy diet and low impact exercise should be encouraged. Further reading on this condition


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