Lymphedema in the leg can be the result of a hereditary condition wherein the individual’s genetic make up plays a major role. In such cases, the lymphatic system is not properly developed at birth, which causes the lymph to accumulate in the legs and cause a swelling. The family history also shows the incidence of leg lymphedema in these cases.
Surgery to remove lymph nodes, lymph vessels or radiation therapy for cancer in the groin, pelvis or the abdomen may cause a disturbance in the lymphatic system, thus causing secondary lymphedema in the legs. Breast cancer treatment may cause lymphedema in the arms of the patient, but leg lymphedema is usually a result of cancer treatment for the liver, prostate, lungs or the abdomen. Fluid generation in the abdomen that spreads down towards the legs can also be another cause for lymphedema.
Treatment must be started as soon as the initial signs become apparent. A painful swelling on the leg is the first symptom that you will observe. Sometimes you may also feel a swelling behind the knee, accumulated fluid in the area or even a heavy feeling in the ankles. It is imperative to visit your doctor if you observe any of these signs. Lymphedema can be reversed if it is diagnosed and treated at the initial phase. Simple techniques can help to lessen the swelling in the first stages of the condition. Using elastic stockings regularly and elevating the feet as often as possible are a great help to bring down the swelling. At night, you can wrap the leg diagonally with elastic wraps and keep the feet elevated. This helps the lymphatic flow.
Simple exercises for the leg like pumping it up and down, leg kicks or even moving the toes while standing helps to control the condition. Even daily walking as an exercise regimen can aid in keeping the lymphedema under control. It is important to maintain skin hygiene. While bathing, it is necessary to apply soap, rinse the legs with water, and wipe dry the area between toes. Any infection or an ingrown toe nail must be treated immediately to avoid complications.
People who have leg lymphedema must wear closed footwear with soft, padded socks to avoid injuries to the feet. Toenails must be cut carefully and feet must be kept clean and dry at all times. Patients with leg lymphedema must avoid wearing tight clothes or socks and undergarments with tight elastic. Compressing the limb might lead to an increase in blood pressure and cause swelling. Using compression stocking during air travel is essential. Even though there may be no cure for lymphedema of the leg, it is quite possible to delay the onset or diminish the threat of developing the ailment if due care and precautions are taken.