Lymphedema is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid in the interstitial tissue that causes swelling most often in the arms or legs, giving a feeling of a full sensation and makes the skin feel tight and making fitting clothes difficult.
Primary Lymphedema, develops when lymphatic vessels are missing or impaired. More common in younger women, Lymphedema can start near birth, around puberty or later in life.
Secondary Lymphedema develops when lymph vessels are damaged or lymph nodes are removed and there can be a variety of causes including malignancy in breast cancer, where the lymphatic channels are compressed or metastasis can occur in the lymph nodes. Trauma and surgery where the lymph nodes are removed, radiography and chronic infection which can result in fibrosis and eventual lymphatic obstruction, are all factors that can contribute to secondary Lymphedema.
For both upper and lower extremities, primary Lymphedema is estimated to affect 1 million individuals and secondary Lymphedema about 2 million individuals in the US.
When choosing footwear for Lymphedema the shoe needs to be deep with additional inserts to add or remove as edema changes over the course of the day. A velcro or hook and loop closure also makes it easier to adjust the fit of the shoe during the day. Shoes that can stretch to accommodate change in volume of the foot and also provide some compression are often fitted along with compression hosiery.
Edema is a term used to describe the swelling of a body part due to fluid accumulation in the tissue.
Peripheral edema is the swelling of tissues usually in the lower limbs due to an accumulation of fluids resulting from venous insufficiency. It should not be confused with Lymphedema.
Although the condition is commonly associated with aging it can be caused by other conditions associated with congestive heart failure, trauma, alcoholism, and in some cases altitude. Peripheral edema can lead to peripheral neuropathy and should be treated accordingly.
Considered an essential part of Lymphedema management, the use of short stretch materials in compression therapy increases the tissue pressure to reduce the volume of fluid that leaves the blood capillaries via ultra filtration and also improves the venous re-absorption of these fluids back into the venous end of the blood capillaries.
Lymphedema maybe mild moderate or severe and requires lifelong strategies to maintain improvements from complete decongestive therapy. Compression stockings must be fitted correctly, taking into consideration factors such as the patient’s age and the severity of the swelling. It is highly recommended that a Lymphedema specialist should be consulted before fitting any compression hosiery.
For mild Lymphedema and edema, Pedors non prescription compression stocking may be appropriate. Please click here for more information about Pedors compression stockings.
For shoes that offer some compression, consider either the Pedors Classic or the Pedors MAX designed to stretch as the foot swells over the course of the day and, with the touch closure, can be easily adjusted.