The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs throughout the body that are responsible for removing waste, toxins, and other unwanted materials from the body. Lymph, a bodily fluid that contains white blood cells, is transported throughout the entire body via the lymphatic system. Unfortunately, the lymphatic system may not always function properly. Lymphedema is a medical condition in which lymph fluid builds up in an area of the body - usually the lower limbs - and causes swelling, skin tightness, tingling, heaviness, and changes in the appearance of the skin. Lymphedema is often seen in people who are undergoing cancer treatment, but can also occur due to infection, surgical complications, and genetic disorders.
If you have swelling in your lower limbs caused by lymphedema, a podiatrist can help. Treatment for lymphedema is typically focused on reducing swelling and pain. Your podiatrist may wrap your leg or prescribe compression garments to decrease swelling, or do a lymph massage to help drain excess fluid. They may also suggest lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and exercise, to take pressure off of your lower limbs and encourage lymph drainage. In severe cases, surgery to remove excess tissue may also be an option.
Another service that podiatrists can provide when it comes to managing lymphedema is wound care. For some people who have lymphedema, the skin can become swollen, tight, and thickened, leading to the formation of a wound. These wounds can be painful and may heal slowly or poorly without medical intervention. A podiatrist can treat wounds to encourage healing and decrease the chances of infection. If you are suffering from lower limb lymphedema, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist near you.