Oedema versus Lymphoedema

How do you know if you have oedema or lymphoedema? Both involve swelling right?

They do, but the underlying mechanisms of both conditions are different. Hopefully this chart can help you determine what you are experiencing and which treatment to seek, but it’s also essential to link in with your GP and find a vascular specialist and/or lymphoedema therapist who can assess your condition correctly.

pitting oedema

Pitting oedema test. Photo courtesy of wikipedia

OedemaLymphoedema
Can be generalised depending on the cause. The swelling occurs locally near the damaged lymphatic area.
Occurs due to: trauma, prolonged standing, fluid retention (like in pregnancy), low protein levels in the blood due to kidney or lung disease, difficulty pumping blood back to the heart due to congestive heart failure or chronic venous insufficiency.Swelling is caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system or is congenital where there is an abnormality of the lymph vessels.
Stemmers sign: pinch and lift a skinfold at the base of the second toe or middle finger. If it can be pinched and lifted the Stemmer sign is negative. Stemmers sign: in lymphedema you are unable to pinch and lift the skin. The thin skin of the dorsum of the foot or hand is the first area to show signs of thickening, which leads to a positive Stemmer’s sign.
Non-pitting oedema: Swelling does not leave a mark when a finger is pressed into it. Pitting oedema: Swelling leaves a mark when a finger is pressed into it. This occurs only in the early stages of lymphedema.
Oedema that is due to an injury is caused by additional tissue fluid build up as an inflammatory response to heal the area Lymph-impaired tissues respond to injuries with slow healing and/or a potentially serious infection.
Oedema fluid is watery.It is marked by an abnormal collection of excess tissue proteins,
oedema, chronic inflammation and fibrosis.
Infections may cause oedemaLymphedema infections are a direct complication of the condition itself.
Due to some causes can be relieved with diuretics.Diuretics can make lymphoedema worse.
Often resolves when the injury heals or the underlying condition is managed.Unlike oedema, lymphoedema is a long-term condition.

Have you ever considered a compression pump to treat your lymphoedema? Find out more about the LX9 here.