The lymphatic system is a network of vessels throughout the body whose purpose is to transport lymphatic fluid, or lymph. Lymphedema is chronic swelling that occurs when lymph fluid is not moving properly.
Lymphedema typically develops when lymph vessels are damaged or lymph nodes are removed (secondary lymphedema). It can also develop when lymphatic vessels are missing or impaired due to a hereditary condition (primary lymphedema).
Signs and symptoms of lymphedema include swelling in the arm or leg, a heavy or tight feeling in the affected area, cellulitis, fibrosis, and a decreased range of motion.
Edema is a medical term for swelling. Edema happens when fluid is trapped and accumulates in body tissues. Although edema can occur in the entire body, it is more commonly seen in the feet and legs.
Edema can be the result of medication, pregnancy, a sprained or twisted ankle, heart failure, kidney disease, or cirrhosis or the liver.
Signs and symptoms of edema include swelling or puffiness of tissue under the skin, stretched or shiny skin, skin that retains a dimple after being pressed for several seconds, and an increased abdominal size.
Mild edema typically goes away on its own and more severe edema requires medication to regulate the fluid.
*You should see a doctor if you are experiencing shortness of breath, chest pain, or heavy breathing.