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Doctor insights on: Can Lymphedema Spread From My Arms To Other Parts Of My Body

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Can lymphedema spread from my arms to other parts of my body?

Can lymphedema spread from my arms to other parts of my body?

Yes.: Upper extremity lymphedema most commonly occurs following the treatment of breast cancer, which involves lymph node removal +/- radiation. The entire lymphatic system is interconnected and swelling can occur anywhere in the body regardless of which lymphatic region was affected. Though not curable, this does respond to physical therapy.

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Dr. Ted King
421 Doctors shared insights

Lymphedema (Definition)

The lymph channels work to return fluid from the lower extremities back towards the heart, and filter out bacteria. If the lymph channels and not functioning appropriately swelling of the affected limb is most common presentation. The swelling usually occurs during daily activities and improves with leg elevation. In order to prevent swellingUse a compression ...Read more


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Diagnosed with shingles 5 days ago; have lymphedema on 1 arm from removal of 30 breast cancer involved lymph nodes - what if shingles spreads to arm?

Diagnosed with shingles 5 days ago; have lymphedema on 1 arm from removal of 30 breast cancer involved lymph nodes - what if shingles spreads to arm?

Secondary infection: Good news is that shingles always follows set patterns. The outbreaks follow the course of a sensory nerve. So, if the outbreak isn't now near the arm, it is very unlikely that it will go there. You can search online for shingles dermatomes to see the patterns. If it does make it to your arm, secondary infection is your biggest concern. Be careful the blisters do not pop and become infected.

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Do you think arms sleeves for lymphedema are effective?

Many, Many options: Lymphedema occurs whith compromise of the lymphatic circulation. Lymphatics carry things too thick to be safely carried in arteries and veins like bacteria eaten by white cells and digested food. It is propelled along by normal body movements blockage causes it to back up causing soft tissues/skin deformity. Sleeves are one part of many options including wraps, pumps, and massage.

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I have mild-moderate lymphedema in my arms. What is the best way to get rid of it?

Options: Most lymphedema can be improved with physical therapy/compression. There is a new technique of lymph node transfer that can dramatically improve certain cases. It is microsurgical transfer of nodes to a draining basin to improve symptoms and hopefully grow more channels. Call 321-841-7090 as the institute of microsurgery at orlando health now offers this!

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What treatment for lymphedema that will not cost an arm?

What treatment for lymphedema that will not cost an arm?

Should be covered..: Compression and lymphatic massage are the mainstays of therapy for lymphedema. As lymphedema is a diagnosis of exclusion, make sure you see a vascular specialist and that other causes of swelling have been ruled out. Your therapy should be covered if a specialist makes the diagnosis of lymphedema.

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Could I have info about prevention of lymphedema in my arm?

Could I have info about prevention of lymphedema in my arm?

Not really possible: Lymphedema occurs when there is a compromise of the lymphatic circulation. This third circulation (arteries, veins) carries things too thick to be safely carried in arteries and veins like bacteria eaten by white cells and digested food. It is propelled along by normal body movements but contains a thick material called lymph. Blockage causes it to back up causing soft tissues/skin deformity.

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I have had slight swelling in my left arm due to lymphedema. What can I do?

Lymphedema therapy: Manual lymphatic drainage and complete decongestive therapy are the cornerstones of proper lymphedema care. You should seek the opinion of a vascular specialist that has a special interest in lymphedema management. You can learn a lot of the techniques and can begin self management at home once you have been properly treated.

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I am trying to find where to go for therapy to treat lymphedema of the arm. What should I consider?

MLD: You need to find a lymphedema center that provides manual lymphatic drainage and complete decongestive therapy. This is a specialized program that is the bet treatment for patients with lymphedema.

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Can a person massage the lymphedema out of his arm?

Yes: The best treatment for this is manual lymphatic drainage and complete decongestive therapy. This is essentially a massage technique that stimulates the lymphatics and encourages the fluid to move towards the central venous system. Combined with compression this massage then controls the swelling. Please see a physician with special interest in lymph edema and seek this treatment.

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What are the recommended exercises for lymphedema of the arm?

Occupational therapy: An occupational therapist can customize a program for you. Compressing a hard rubber ball to work the forearm muscles, biceps and triceps exercises with weights can help move fluid from the upper arm

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Can a new tumor on my arm cause lymphedema?

Yes: Depending on where the tumor grows and which tissues it involves, it certainly can cause lymphedema of the arm. In particular, if the tumor involves the lymph nodes in the arm pit (axilla), this could Prohibit lymphatic drainage from the arm and cause lymphedema.

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Could shooting heroin in the arm cause arm lymphedema?

Potentially: Lymphedema can result from any type of disruption of lymphatic channels: surgery, trauma, and infection are common causes. If the heroin was injected into tissues rather than into the vein, it can incite an inflammatory reaction which alters lymphatic flow.

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Can radiation cause arm lymphedema from non-hodgkin's lymphoma?

Can radiation cause arm lymphedema from non-hodgkin's lymphoma?

Yes, although: The non-hodgkins lymphoma can cause lyphedema itself, even without radiation.

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I was fitted for a lymphedema sleeve and gauntlet. Is the sleeve supposed to cut off the circulation in my arm and hand?

I was fitted for a lymphedema sleeve and gauntlet. Is the sleeve supposed to cut off the circulation in my arm and hand?

No: The sleeve should be tight but should not cut off your circulation. You may need to start with a larger sleeve and move to a smaller one as your lymphedema improves. Talk to your physical therapist as soon as possible.

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How can I avoid putting pressure on my arm and prevent breast lymphedema?

General care: Lymphedema of the arm is seen following breast procedures (axillary dissection, radiation), and avoiding putting pressure on the arm doesn't prevent the swelling. Avoid scratches, injury of the arm that can result in infection and further damage of the lymphatics. Seek help of a lymphedema trained physical therapist for specific advice.

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Have lymphedema in right arm and hand. Also trigger finger on that side. Will surgery for the trigger finger make the lymphedema worse?

Have lymphedema in right arm and hand. Also trigger finger on that side. Will surgery for the trigger finger make the lymphedema worse?

No: No, surgery for trigger finger should not make the lymphedema worse. The cause of a trigger finger has nothing to do with the lack of draining of the lymph nodes which causes the lymphedema.

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Are there restrictions of use for secondary arm lymphadema? My arm is 5 cms larger after mastectomy?

Are there restrictions of use for secondary arm lymphadema? My arm is 5 cms larger after mastectomy?

Yes: In general, I would recommend not allowing blood draws and blood pressure readings from that arm. Furthermore, if you should need a skin surgery on that arm (eg. Skin cancer), I would discuss using prophylactic antibiotics with our cancer surgeon and dermatologist. You may want to have a massage therapist trained in lymphedema help you too.

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