If your lymph system is damaged, or if your lymph nodes were removed as part of cancer treatment, you may develop a painful swelling in your legs and feet called lymphedema. Though lymphedema can’t be cured, expert podiatrist Thomas LeBeau, DPM, FACCWS, helps halt your disease and slow its progression with effective management techniques at St. Augustine Foot and Ankle in St. Augustine, Florida. If you’re suffering from swollen legs and feet, hardened skin, or the pain of lymphedema, contact St. Augustine Foot and Ankle today by calling the friendly staff or using the easy online form.

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What is the lymphatic system?

Your lymphatic system is a network of organs, ducts, lymph nodes, and lymph vessels that moves a fluid called lymph throughout your body. Lymph is made up of white blood cells — which attack bacteria in your blood — and a protein- and fat-rich fluid from your intestines called chyle. As lymph circulates throughout your body, it removes bacteria and cancer cells while also producing immune cells that help your body fight infection.

Lymph vessels look something like blood vessels and run throughout your body. However, instead of carrying blood, the lymph vessels transport lymph out of tissues. The lymph vessels filter contaminants from the lymph fluid and then return it to the blood circulatory system.

Organs in your lymph system include:

  • Spleen
  • Thymus
  • Tonsils
  • Adenoids

Your lymph nodes are small, soft glands located in clusters around your armpits, neck, and groin. When you’re sick, you can sometimes feel the swollen lymph nodes around your neck.

What is lymphedema?

When your lymph nodes stop working or are missing because you had them removed as part of a treatment plan for cancer, lymph fluid can’t drain as well and starts to build up. The blockage causes a kind of swelling in your arms and legs known as lymphedema.

If you know that you’re undergoing lymph node removal, talk to your oncologist about how to prevent lymphedema. If you notice swelling in your feet or legs, contact Dr. LeBeau right away. Also alert him if you notice early-stage symptoms, such as:

  • Any kind of swelling in legs, feet, or toes
  • Aching legs and feet
  • Feet or legs that feel heavy or tight
  • Hardened skin on legs or feet
  • Difficulty moving legs or feet
  • Discomfort, pain, or aching
  • Infections that keep coming back

The sooner you treat lymphedema, the easier it is to stop the disease from progressing.

How do podiatrists treat lymphedema?

Lymphedema can’t be cured, but Dr. LeBeau helps you reduce the swelling and alleviate the pain. He may recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and treatments, such as:

  • Exercise to encourage lymph drainage
  • Wrapping your leg
  • Lymph massage to help drain fluid
  • Compression garments or devices that put pressure on the legs
  • Losing weight to take pressure off legs

In severe cases of lymphedema, Dr. LeBeau may recommend minimally invasive surgeries to remove excess tissue.

Contact St. Augustine Foot and Ankle today for relief from lymphedema. Use the handy online form or call the friendly office staff.