©2018 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Information.

Vascular, Lymphatic and Systemic Conditions

Picture of Lymphedema

Picture of Lymphedema

Lymphedema is an uncomfortable condition that occurs when lymph flow is impeded. Lymphedema may occur due to a malformed lymphatic system that may be present at birth or manifest later in life. The condition may also occur as a complication due to cancer, infection, injury, scar tissue, radiation, or the removal of lymph nodes. Anything that blocks or damages the lymphatic vessels may result in lymphedema.

Lymphedema causes swelling in an affected arm or leg. Along with the visible swelling, other symptoms may include

  • skin tightness,
  • limb heaviness,
  • skin thickening,
  • itching,
  • burning,
  • difficulty sleeping,
  • hair loss, and
  • difficulty moving a joint in the affected limb.
Image Source: Color Atlas & Synopsis of Pediatric Dermatology Kay Shou-Mei Kane, Jen Bissonette Ryder, Richard Allen Johnson, Howard P. Baden, Alexander Stratigos Copyright 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. All rights reserved.

Text Reference: National Cancer Institute: "Lymphedema (PDQ) – Patient Version"