Learning more about lymphoedema and its causes helps to empower you to best manage your health and wellbeing.

What is lymphoedema?

When your lymphatic system doesn’t work properly this can lead to swelling in your arms or legs, which is known as lymphoedema.

Over time this swelling can worsen and if left untreated, can restrict movement and increase the likelihood of skin infections.

Secondary lymphoedema occurs when there is damage to the lymphatic vessels and/or lymph nodes. This damage could be from surgical removal of your lymph nodes and/or radiation therapy but may also be a result of infiltration of the lymphatic vessels by cancer cells.

There are many treatment programs that can help reduce swelling and your risk of complications from lymphoedema.

At Icon, we can provide you with information and techniques to manage your lymphoedema at home. It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of lymphoedema as the earlier it is recognised, the better it can be managed.

Frequently asked questions

What are the signs and symptoms of lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is characterised by the swelling of a limb, such as an arm or leg, or other part of the body. This swelling is caused by the excess collection of fluid in the affected body part due to a disruption in the normal flow of lymph drainage in the lymphatic system

Over time this swelling can worsen and if left untreated, can lead to loss of movement and make your skin much more likely to develop an infection.

Other signs of lymphoedema can include a feeling of heaviness or tightness, difficulty moving and aching or discomfort.1

What causes lymphoedema?

There are two different types of lymphoedema:

  • Primary lymphoedema occurs when the lymphatic vessels or nodes are poorly developed due to a congenital abnormality.
  • Secondary lymphoedema occurs when the lymphatic system is damaged from surgical removal of lymph nodes, and/or cancer treatments such as radiation therapy.

Other causes can include cancer, trauma, infection, obesity and immobility.

Can lymphoedema be treated?

There is currently no cure for lymphoedema, however there are many treatment programs that can help you to reduce swelling and your risk of complications, and teach you techniques on how to self-manage your lymphoedema at home.

Treatment for lymphoedema

Please contact your local Icon team about treatment options and how they can help. Alternatively you can send us a message.


For a full list of references, click here.
  1. Lymphoedema. (n.d). HealthXchange. Retrieved on 5 June 2019 from

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