What is Edema and Lymphedema?
To understand Edema and Lymphedema a basic understanding of the lymphatic system is necessary. This page will provide you with information to better understand these conditions.
The lymphatic system, edema and lymphedema
The lymphatic system consists of lymph vessels, lymph nodes and other lymph tissue. The lymph system filters and returns excess fluids in the body into the bloodstream. This fluid is present because veins only return about 85% of the blood that is pumped to them into the bloodstream. The other 10% is picked up by the lymph system. On any given day the lymph system will return 3 liters or more of fluid to the bloodstream. Edema and lymphedema result when this system is not functioning properly.
Edema is excessive fluid build up in an area. Among other things it can be caused by venous insufficiency or inflammation. With edema the lymph system functions normally, but is unable to cope with excessive amounts of fluid build up. Edema will often resolve by itself, though manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) can significantly speed up the healing process.
Lymphedema is an accumulation of fluids caused by an impairment of the lymphatic system itself. Because the problem involves the lymphatic system itself, this type of edema usually requires treatment to resolve. Lymphedema is generally divided into two categories: Primary, which is the result of impaired development of the lymphatic system and Secondary, which can develop after trauma to the lymphatic system. Among other causes Secondary lymphedema can occur post mastectomy or with severe burns.
Treatment for edema and lymphedema
Edema and Lymphedema can be treated using Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT). This approach uses a combination of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), compression garments or bandaging, exercise and skin care. Extra certification is required for a Registered Massage Therapist to use CDT and MLD. Brianne Kokayko of Kelowna Medical Massage is fully certified to provide this treatment.
This information is not intended to replace medical advice. Please contact a primary healthcare practitioner before starting any care program for edema of lypmhedema.