How To Treat Sudden Swelling In Your Extremities
If you’ve suffered injury to (or removal of) one of your lymph nodes — the glands that help circulate white blood cells throughout your body and fight disease — you may notice occasional and severe swelling of the limb near your injured or removed lymph node. What causes this swelling, and how can you treat it? Read on to learn more about lymphedema and what you can do to minimize your symptoms.
What function do the lymph nodes perform?
Your lymphatic system is composed of each of your lymph nodes (present in your neck, armpits, and groin) and is part of your circulatory system. Your lymph nodes are special glands that help circulate lymph — a fluid containing white blood cells and other powerful disease-fighting substances — throughout your body. When you’re suffering an illness, your lymph nodes often swell, as they become overtaxed at the effort it takes to fight this illness. In addition, if you suffer from an immune disorder or certain types of cancer, you may have to have one or more lymph nodes removed.
What causes swelling of the limbs near this affected lymph node?
Once you’ve had a lymph node removed (or if your lymph node has been damaged by illness or injury) you may notice occasional sudden, severe swelling of the arm or leg near the affected site. On rare occasions, this swelling can impact more than one limb. This swelling is called lymphedema, and is usually the result of a failure of the lymphatic system to properly drain and filter lymph from the limb. If you have lymphedema, you may notice that your limb feels heavy and is painful — in some cases, the skin on your affected limb can even thicken and harden.
What can you do to treat these symptoms?
Although there is currently no cure for lymphedema, there are ways you can control your symptoms to minimize their effect on your daily life.
- Keep the affected limb elevated as much as possible. The gravity will help gradually drain excess fluid.
- Massaging the limb can also help force the extra fluid back into your body.
- If one or both legs are affected, you can purchase special compression stockings in the diabetes care section of most drugstores. These stockings will help force the blood and lymph back into the rest of your body, as well as preventing further lymph buildup. If your arms are affected, you can try tightly wrapping them with a cloth bandage for the same effect.
In severe cases that are not helped by the methods above, surgery may be necessary. However, most cases of lymphedema can be easily treated and managed by simply compressing the limb. Contact a company like Dynamic Rehabilitation Services for more help with treating lymphedema.