Venous Insufficiency/Lymphedema

Illustration of a lymphatic vessel

The Lymphology Association of North America estimates that there are 2.5 million people in the United States with some form of lymphedema. Lymphedema is an accumulation of abnormal amounts of protein-rich fluid in the tissues of the body. This accumulation of fluid may lead to permanent swelling caused by an impaired network of lymph nodes and channels.

Although lymphedema cannot be cured, through proper care and treatment, affected body parts can return to a normal size and shape.


Patients can develop this condition after having surgery. Other causes include:

  • Traumatic injury
  • Radiation treatment
  • Cancerous tumors
  • Infection of the lymph nodes
  • Venous insufficiency

If left untreated, lymphedema can lead to decreased function and mobility in the affected limb, chronic infections and other illnesses.


Symptoms of lymphedema include:

  • Infections in the affected limb
  • Tightness or heaviness feeling in the skin
  • Decreased ability to move the wrist, hand or ankle
  • Difficulty fitting into clothing in a specific area
  • Hardening of the skin around the arm or leg


Treatment of lymphedema includes:

  • Decongestive therapy (massage therapy)
  • Garment fit and training
  • Nutritional education
  • Medical management of associated pain or infections
  • Educational and psychological support to improve overall well-being

If any of the above symptoms apply to you, come see our specialists at the Center for Diabetic Limb Preservation at Northwest Hospital so they can treat and prevent further complications.