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hi i am interested in knowing what does lymphadema mean? i have a friend who has it, and wonder how i can assist her in helping with the drainage that she is having. what is exactly done to people that have this type of problem?

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Lymphedema is a condition of localized fluid retention caused by a compromised lymphatic system. The lymphatic system (often referred to as the body's "second" circulatory system) collects and filters the interstitial fluid of the body. Lymphedema has been barely recognized as being a serious health problem; however, this is slowly changing due to education and awareness. The danger with lymphedema comes from the constant risk of developing an uncontrolled infection in the affected limb. Still, physicians and medical staff who practice in fields where this disease is uncommon may fail to correctly diagnose the condition due to the apparent lack of information regarding this disease.

Lymphedema may be inherited (primary) or caused by injury to the lymphatic vessels (secondary). While the exact cause of primary lymphedema is still unknown, it generally occurs due to poorly-developed or missing lymph nodes and/or channels in the body.

Treatment for lymphedema varies depending on the severity of the edema and the degree of fibrosis of the affected limb. Most people with lymphedema follow a daily regimen of treatment as suggested by their physician or certified lymphedema therapist. The most common treatments for lymphedema are a combination of direct lymphatic massage, compression garments or bandaging and the use of intermittent sequential gradient pumps. Complex decongestive physiotherapy is an empiric system of lymphatic massage, skin care, and compressive garments. Although a combination treatment program may be ideal, any of the treatments can be done individually.
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