Yoga can cure lymphedema

Lymphatic system and lymphedema

Swollen feet, thick and heavy legs and your pants get tighter and tighter as the day progresses? Then it could be lymphedema. The sooner it is treated, the better the lymphatic congestion can be dealt with.

What is the lymphatic system?
The lymphatic system covers the entire body with vessels that are responsible for the removal of waste products. The lymph, a milky liquid, consists of urea, creatine, gucose, sodium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium ions, enzymes and fibrinogen (responsible for blood clotting). This fluid collects everything that is between our body cells and transports these residues away. These can be, for example, nutrients, dead cells and proteins. These "waste products" are transported to a central point in the chest. From there they enter the bloodstream through the veins. The blood passes through the kidneys, is purified and the "waste products" are excreted.

What happens with lymphedema?
With this disease, the lymphatic system no longer functions properly, as a result of which proteins and tissue fluid remain between the cell spaces. As a result, the limbs swell and lymph congestion occurs. If this congestion is not treated, there is a risk of tissue damage, inflammation, sore throat or even an open leg.

Symptoms of lymphedema

  • Visible and palpable accumulation of fluid and backwater in the intercellular space
  • Swelling of the arms, legs, backs of feet and hands, less often of the neck, trunk and genitals
  • due to the high protein content of the lymph, the tissue cannot be indented like other edema
  • Stemmer's sign: the fold of skin on the second or third toe can no longer be lifted
  • deepened skin folds on the joints
  • plump skin

Two types of lymphedema

Primary lymphedema

Parkes-Weber Syndrome
This is a congenital, complex vascular malformation caused by an unnatural and direct connection between a vein and an artery. The result is gigantism (hypertrophy) and an asymmetry of the lower extremity. The spot is often marked with a fire mark. The disease is treated with surgical measures, such as embolization, in which blood vessels are artificially closed.

Klippel-Trénaunay syndrome
This syndrome is similar to Parkes-Weber syndrome, as it is also a complex vascular malformation in which the affected areas are characterized by gigantic growth and stains. Since the malformations are extreme, large vessels can be reduced in size with a catheter or surgically removed. In addition, regular lymphatic drainage and physiotherapy support the mobility of the limbs.

Secondary lymphedema

Secondary lymphedema often occurs Surgery, infections, chemotherapy or injuries on. It is divided into four stages:

  • Stage 0: The lymphatic vessels are damaged, but there is no swelling.
  • Stage 1: During the course of the day, swellings form, which completely or partially recede when the legs are raised. If pressure is applied to the tissue, a slight dent remains.
  • Stage 2: The swelling persists even after long periods of rest and elevation of the legs. The skin is hardened and tight. No dents can be pressed into the fabric.
  • Stage 3: In addition to the swellings, skin changes occur, e.g. small vesicles from which lymph leaks. The most severe form of lymphedema is known as "elephantiasis".

Treatment of lymphedema

The treatment of lymphedema is divided into two phases and can take several months to complete. A doctor or therapist will perform the treatment. Ask your health insurance company about the treatment:

Decongestion phase
In the first phase, the affected areas are carefully cleaned and skin diseases treated, as otherwise inflammation can penetrate the lymphatic system and damage it. Lymph drainage takes place once or twice a day within three to six weeks to promote the removal of the fluid. This is followed by a compression bandage with bandages. Without it, the affected limbs would swell again after two hours. It is important that you move around after the drainage. Phase two only begins when there is no further reduction in the circumference, e.g. of the legs.

Maintenance phase
Phase two is about keeping the disease contained as much as possible. Care should always be taken to ensure careful hygiene, regular lymphatic drainage (twice a week in summer, once a week in winter), compression and exercise.

Lymphedema is completely incurable, but can be contained well to very well with therapy. Please also note the following tips for everyday life:

7 tips for everyday life

  1. Wear comfortable clothing that does not constrict.
  2. Keep your body weight in the normal range in order to avoid excessive stress on the skin.
  3. Care for your skin with ph-neutral shampoos and creams so that the skin remains supple, does not tear and thus does not cause inflammation.
  4. Avoid stress and extreme cold as they constrict the blood vessels.
  5. Sunbathing, saunas and a hot bathtub are also not recommended as they dilate the vessels too much.
  6. Wear tailored, flat-knit compression stockings on top of you. The material is stronger than circular knitted and less elastic.
  7. Protect yourself from nail and skin injuries.

Contact Person

If you suspect you have lymphedema, we recommend one Phlebologists or Lymphologist to seek out. The family doctor can refer you to one of these two specialists.