Foot lymphedema, sometimes simply called foot swelling, is a condition that involves the lymphatic system and your lymph nodes. Lymphedema can be both reversible and irreversible, but even in when it can’t be reversed, there are treatment options to control symptoms and make progress. Below, we take a closer look at the causes, symptoms and treatment options for lymphedema of the foot.
Causes and Symptoms of Lymphedema
Our lymphatic system play a crucial role in keeping our bodies healthy by helping to circulate protein-rich lymph fluid throughout our body to help collect and remove waste products. When something happens to the system and the lymph vessels can’t adequately drain the fluid, swelling in the extremities can occur. Some common causes of lymphedema include lymph node removal surgery, radiation treatment, cancer, infections or any condition that impacts the healthy function of the lymphatic system.
Symptoms of foot lymphedema include:
Feelings of heaviness or tightness in the area
Limited range of motion
Thickening of the skin
Infections or recurring infections
Diagnosis and Treatment
If the swelling is significant or persistent, or if you believe you’re dealing with an infection, set up an appointment with your primary care physician or a foot specialist. Your doctor will take a look at the foot and then work to establish the reason for the lymphedema. This will include determining if you’re dealing with a primary or secondary cause using some physical tests and an imaging exam. They may also conduct a blood test to look for the presence of an infection.
Once you’ve been diagnosed, your doctor will explain your condition as well as the best ways to treat it. In most cases, there’s a clear path to symptom relief or even a full reversal of the problem. Although your specific treatment will vary based on your individual diagnosis, many individuals find some relief from a combination of some of the following treatment options:
Light to moderate intensity exercise
Foot, ankle and leg compression wrapping
In most cases, conservative care options help to relieve symptoms and bring swelling down, but in some cases a more hands-on treatment is necessary. If conservative care fails, surgery to drain the system or remove excess tissue in your foot may help to reduce swelling in the long-term. Your doctor can walk your through these options should they become necessary for your situation.
Lymaphedema can become more problematic if left unaddressed, so be sure to reach out to your doctor if you are concerned about swelling in your feet, legs or another part of your body. We’re here to help and can answer any questions you might have. For more information or to set up an appointment with Dr. Silverman, reach out to his clinic today at (952) 224-8500.