Understanding Lymphedema

Within the human body, fluid balance is a delicate process. Often we think of the cardiovascular system as doing all of the fluid transport, but that system has a very important sister: the lymphatic system. As blood is pumped out of the heart, it goes through the arterial system. When it reaches the end of the arterial system, the vessels change from arteries to veins. During this transition, some of the fluid that the blood cells are suspended in gets pushed out of the vessels and into the interstitium. Think of the interstitium as the jello that holds the cells of the body together. This fluid has to be picked up by the lymphatic system and slowly pumped back towards the heart, where it gets deposited into the venous system right before it enters the heart.

If the lymphatic system doesn’t transport the fluid effectively, we end up with swelling. This is a specific type of swelling called lymphedema. This swelling needs to be managed as it a progressive disease, meaning it cannot be cured. But just because it cannot be cured doesn’t mean it has to be a life-stopping issue. With care from a certified lymphedema therapist, this condition can be well managed.

Even if swelling is not the result of a compromised lymphatic system, all swelling can be helped with the same steps that help lymphedema. For example, after a knee replacement, swelling can be a huge limiting factor in movement. If that swelling is reduced through decongestive therapy, the knee will be able to move better in a shorter amount of time. By speeding up the transport of the lymphatic system, more fluid will be picked up from the affected area and reduce the overall swelling.

If you have swelling and it’s getting in the way of your life or causing you discomfort, come in for a free screen to talk to me about managing it better!

Interested in coming to Jade for your Lymphedema care? Here is a little more information about us!

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