If you’ve ever experienced swelling in your legs or arms, after a quick google search, you may have wondered whether you were suffering from venous edema or lymphedema. Both are very different conditions with different names and treatment methods, but there similar presentation can make for a confused patient. Many people ask the question, are lymphedema and venous edema the same thing and that’s why we thought we’d break down he facts. This will look at the similarities and differences of lymphedema and venous edema to help answer this question!
What is Lymphedema?
Millions of people have lymphedema. Lymphedema is a medical condition that causes swelling in one or more of an individual’s extremities. This swelling is caused by an impaired flow in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is made of a specialized network of vessels that help collect excess lymph fluid from the body. After it has collected the excess lymph fluid it filters it through the lymph nodes. However if the lymphatic system is not functioning properly, then the body will react to the excess lymph fluid and swell.
What is Venous Edema?
Venous edema, also known as chronic venous insufficiency, is a disease of the veins that spreads to the lymphatics. This causes a chronic leakage of venous fluid into the tissues which then compromises lymphatic function. This condition causes your leg veins to not allow blood to travel back up to the heart. Venous edema can cause this blood that is not traveling towards the heart to flow backwards and collect or pool in the legs. Although venous edema can affect any part of your body, you may notice it more in your hands, arms, feet, ankles and legs.
What Causes Lymphedema?
Lymphedema is most commonly caused by the removal of or damage to your lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment. Lymphedema results from a blockage in your lymphatic system, which is part of your immune system. The blockage prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and the fluid buildup leads to swelling.
There are two types of Lymphedema, Primary and Secondary. Primary Lymphedema is caused by an anatomical abnormality which is a rare and inherited condition. Secondary Lymphedema is the result of damage or an obstruction to the lymph vessels and nodes.
What Causes Venous Edema?
There are several causes of venous edema. Some of these include being overweight, pregnant, lack of exercise, smoking, high blood pressure, medication, previous leg injuries, as well as a family history of the issue. Venous edema can also be a sign of a larger issue such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, or cirrhosis of the liver.
What are the Symptoms of Lymphedema?
There are several different symptoms of lymphedema, including:
- Heaviness or pain in an arm or leg
- Long lasting swelling in the arm, leg or breast following radiation or surgery
- Decreased range of motion in the affected limb
- Hardening and/or discoloration of the skin in the affected area
If you are concerned that you may be suffering from lymphedema it is important that you visit your doctor. They will provide you with the information that you need about help and next steps.
What are the Symptoms of Venous Edema?
There are several symptoms associated with venous edema, including:
- Swelling in your legs or ankles
- Tight feeling in your calves or itchy, painful legs
- Pain when walking that stops when you rest
- Brown-colored skin, often near the ankles
- Varicose veins
- Leg ulcers that are sometimes hard to treat
- Having an uncomfortable feeling in your legs and an urge to move your legs (restless legs syndrome)
- Painful leg cramps or muscle spasms (charley horse)
If you are experiencing any, or several, of these symptoms it is important to visit your doctor to see what is going on.
What is the difference between Lymphedema and Venous Edema?
Even though both lymphedema and venous edema are conditions that involve swelling, they have different causes and therefore need different treatment. This means that it is important that a doctor determines which you have so that the treatment method that best suits you is selected.
How Can I help my Lymphedema and Venous Edema?
There are many different methods to help ease the pain and effects of lymphedema and venous edema. Some of these include:
- Avoid constrictive jewelry such as rings, watches, ankle bracelets, etc.
- Have your blood pressure checked or blood drawn from the uninvolved limb
- Wear sunscreen and insect repellent on the involved leg/arm
- Move around periodically when traveling by air to promote circulation
- Perform daily skin checks to avoid/treat any sign of infection
- Avoid excessive intake of sodium or caffeine
- Try to increase your water consumption
- Use lotion to prevent skin from cracking, and keep your skin very clean
- Wear loose clothing on the involved limb
- Use an electric shaver for hair removal
- Specialized gentle massage to reroute and move fluid
There are also several suggested methods for treating Lymphedema and Venous Edema, including:
- Exercise programs
- Compression bandages
- Edema control garments
- Wound and skin care
- Adaptation of activities of daily living
- Training on how to follow precautions and use life-long self-management techniques
If you are looking for a compression garment, visit the team at ADAPT Home Health Care today! We carry the following brands of compression therapy garments:
If you have a question about any of these items, please don’t hesitate to contact our team today!
The ADAPT Home Health Care Difference
When you select ADAPT Home Health Care as your home health care store, you select quality. We value each and every one of our customers and work hard to ensure that they receive the best care and the right item for them. We have two locations in Mississauga and one in Brampton to better serve those in the Greater Toronto Area. Our staff is filled with industry experts who work tirelessly to ensure that all our customers are completely satisfied with their purchase. All of our home health care specialists and registered pharmacists are all specially trained as certified compression therapy fitters. Please call us today to book your fitting appointment with one of them today
If you suffer from lymphedema or venous edema, contact the team at ADAPT Home Health Care! We have 3 locations across the Greater Toronto Area to serve you better! Our staff will be there to assist you in finding the right home health care product for you and to answer any and all of your questions!