The lymphatic system is a network of glands and vessels that runs through the body and it plays an important role in the immune system and in draining excess tissue fluid. It helps to defend against infections, get rid of unwanted waste products and keep your body’s fluids in balance. If the lymphatic system is not working properly, fluids in your tissues can build up and cause blockages, infections or swelling.
What causes lymphatic problems?
There are many problems and diseases that can affect the lymphatic system, but the most common is when the lymph nodes become enlarged and swollen (known as lymphedema). The lymphatic system is constantly transporting fluid around the body and removing bacteria through the lymph nodes. When the fluid does not drain properly and becomes blocked, it can cause swelling in the surrounding tissues. This problem is sometimes triggered by gene mutations.
Lymphatic problems can also be caused by surgical treatment for cancer and radiotherapy, or it can be the result of an infection, varicose veins, injury and obesity. Long periods of inactivity and little movement can also lead to lymphedema. Medical conditions that affect the skin and cause it to become inflamed, such as eczema and rheumatoid arthritis, can damage the lymphatic system too.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms associated with lymphatic problems can vary from person to person and depend on the underlying cause of the condition. However, the main signs of lymphedema are the swelling of a limb or another part of the body, which can make clothes feel uncomfortable and tight. In the initial stages, the swelling can appear and disappear. However, without treatment, it can get worse and become more persistent over time. Other symptoms include an achy or heavy sensation in your limbs, restricted movement, regular skin infections, hard or tight skin, fluid leaking from the skin, wart-like growths and folds in the skin. It can also lead to oedema and slow down the wound healing process.
If the problem is caused by genes, symptoms usually develop at an early age and the swelling may begin on one side of the body and then gradually move to the other side. Although the swelling can happen anywhere, it is most common in the lower leg.
If the condition is caused by damage to the lymphatic system, such as the result of cancer treatment, symptoms can appear at any time, even years later.
If you notice any of these signs or are worried that you could be at risk of developing lymphedema, speak to your GP right away. They will be able to diagnose the condition and advise you on the most suitable treatment.
What treatments are there?
As well as medical treatments, there are a few lifestyle behaviours you can adopt to reduce your symptom, for example, physical activity is known to help with lymph drainage. This is because when the muscles surrounding the lymphatic vessels are used, they massage fluid into them and promote healthy circulation. Not only can staying active reduce your risk of developing lymphedema by keeping the fluid moving around your body, it can also help you to lose weight. However, before starting new exercises, consult a healthcare professional to ensure you don’t harm yourself. Your doctor may also be able to recommend certain exercise regimes that are tailored to your specific needs.
Compression clothes and bandages can also be worn on the affected limbs to reduce fluid build up. In addition, good skin care routines can prevent the skin from becoming damaged and reduce the risk of infection. For example, you should treat cuts and scratches immediately with antiseptic lotion and plasters and moisturise your skin thoroughly every day.
Another common treatment for lymphatic issues is massage therapy. This may involve massages carried out by a specialist, or self massage techniques.
Surgical procedures will only generally be considered as a last resort when all other treatments have failed or if the condition is severe.
How can NHC Cyclo-Therapy help?
Built in to all of our adjustable beds and riser recliner chairs is our unique NHC Cyclo-Therapy massage system, which has been medically proven to help with lymphatic drainage. The cycloidal vibration therapy can increase the lymphatic flow, cause the lymph vessels to dilate and ease swelling in the affected area. By using the massage system on a regular basis, you can significantly improve your condition and help to prevent future problems.
To find out more about how our cycloid vibration therapy can help improve lymphatic flow and circulation, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Our friendly and helpful team members are on hand to provide you with further information about our products and help you pick out the right solution for your specific needs. You can get in touch with our specialists by phone or online form.