Lymphedema is an abnormal distension, composed of protein and fluid secondary to the improper functioning of the lymphatic system, which leads to a decreased balance of flow and fluid discharge (Viehoff, Hidding, Heerkens, van Ravensberg, & Neumann, 2014). Lymphedema may occur in the upper extremity, lower extremity, head, neck, and thorax (Viehoff et al., 2014). Lymphedema is classified as either primary or secondary lymphedema (Viehoff et al., 2014). According to Viehoff et al. (2014), primary lymphedema in hereditary in nature and may affect any body part, but occurs mostly in the legs. Secondary lymphedema results from damage to the lymphatic system secondary to infection with lymphatic filariasis, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or inguinal and axillary node dissection (Viehoff et al., 2014).
According to Viehoff et al., (2014), lymphedema is under-recognized due to the fact that is not a registered pathology. Viehoff et al., (2014) reports that there are approximately 140 to 250 million people worldwide affected by lymphedema. The same author states that there is an estimated 120 million impacted by lymphedema in 72 countries, concurrently or previously infected with lymphatic filariasis. 15 million of those were positively confirmed to have lymphedema as reported in the World Health organization.
The lymphatic system plays an important part in the body’s defense against infection (Rockson, 2016).
Signs and Symptoms of Lymphedema
1. Decreased range of