Chronic oedema (also referred to as edema) is defined as abnormal swelling in the tissue which lasts longer than three months and does not completely reduce overnight or with elevation. Swelling in ankles, feet, legs, arms, hands but also the trunk and neck can have many causes but if left untreated can cause further complications, pain and discomfort to the patient.
Complex Decongestive Therapy, a combination of treatment approaches for managing lymphoedema is also referred to as Complete Decongestive Therapy or the acronym CDT.
As the largest organ in the human body, skin is vulnerable to a multitude of threats. Moisturising the skin daily reduces the risk of complications associated with skin breakdown.
A gentle, non-invasive manual massaging technique which encourages the natural drainage of the lymph. This lymphatic drainage is part of the lymphoedema treatment to reduce swelling. It is performed by a trained specialist but a simpler version of the massage can be done by the patient at home.
Compression bandaging is a corner stone of Complete Decongestive Therapy for lymphoedema. It is essential to reduce volume to enable the patient to move into compression hosiery.
Exercise is vital for overall and lymphatic health as well as mental well being.
Chronic oedema is a progressive condition. The oedema begins as soft and pitting and tends to reduce on elevation
The difference in pitting and non pitting oedema is demonstrated by applying pressure to the swollen area by pressing down on the skin with a finger. If the pressing causes an indentation that persists for some time after the release of the pressure, the oedema is referred to as pitting oedema. In non-pitting oedema, pressure that is applied to the skin does not result in a persistent indentation. This kind of oedema is more commen in arms and legs.
If left untreated, non-pitting oedema can cause a range of complications. As the skin stretches in response to swelling, it can become dry and cracked, leaving it vulnerable to infection. Over time, the swelling can also permanently scar the deep tissue beneath the affected area making it hard and fibrotic. Furthermore it can lead to poor circulation and increase the risk of ulceration.
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Acute inflammation of the skin and subcutaneous tissues.
Wet, soggy skin and tissues.
Leg ulcers arising from venous problems are called venous (varicose or stasis) ulcers. They usually develop on the inside of the leg, just above the ankle.
Elongated cleft, break or tear of the tissue.
Pustules around the hair shaft.
Noninvasive infections of the skin, hair, or nails.
Excessive hardened tissue.
Lesions are fragile, smooth, ivory-white plaques associated with changes in the thin soft tissue.
Leaking, weeping of protein rich lymph.
Warty papilloma develop usually on the foot, giving the skin a ‘cobblestone’ appearance.
Damage to the skin or underlying tissure related to pressure on bony prominences.