Lymphedema is a condition in which swelling occurs due to blockage in the lymphatic system, preventing lymph fluid in the arms and legs from draining. The condition causes swelling in the limbs. For a small minority of patients, lymphedema is an inherited condition. Many individuals that have lymphedema suffer it as a secondary condition since it can be caused by another disease or condition. Lymphedema can arise from surgical complications, radiation treatment for cancer or injury to the lymph nodes or lymph vessels.


Symptoms may include:

• swelling in part of arms or legs, or swelling in the entire limb
• feeling of heaviness or tightness in the affected limb
• restricted range of motion in the affected limb
• aching or discomfort in the affected limb
• recurring infections in the affected limb
• hardening and thickening of skin in the affected limb

The symptoms of lymphedema may resemble other conditions so it is important to consult a physician for a proper diagnosis. 


There is no known cure for lymphedema. Treatment options focus on minimizing swelling and controlling the patient's pain. These treatments can include exercise, massage or pneumatic compression. The removal of excess tissue via surgery is an option in cases of severe lymphedema. 

The UK Vascular Surgery team works together to offer patients the most up-to-date information on the latest diagnosis and treatment methods. Call 859-257-1000 or toll free 1-800-333-8874 for an appointment.


Lymphedema -National Cancer Institute 

Page last updated: 1/6/2016 4:30:46 PM