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Lymphoedema is a build-up of protein rich fluid, resulting in swelling of the affected area. While it is most commonly seen in the limbs, it can also occur in the trunk, breasts, head and neck or genitals.

Until recently lymphoedema was categorised as a dermatological condition by World Health Organisation; however, it actually has little to do with the skin. The lymphatic system is a delicate network of vessels and nodes which lie directly underneath the skin. Vessels collect fluid from collectors and transport it to nodes which are situated in various areas in the body, e.g. in the armpit, behind the knee, in the groin and deep in the abdominal cavity where the main lymphatic duct is situated. The nodes act as transport hubs where the fluid collects before draining off to the next pathway of vessels.

The onset of oedema is due to an inability of the lymphatic system to process fluid, either due to an increase in lymphatic load or a decreased ability of the lymphatic system to function. If nodes are removed (as is common in cancer treatment) or the system is damaged, congestion occurs, like a traffic jam, and fluid needs to find a detour – but often is unable to.

While it is unfortunately an incurable condition, lymphoedema can be controlled with proper management. Many health care practitioners aren’t experienced in the diagnosis or treatment of lymphoedema so patients should try to find someone who has knowledge of the field. Our three Physiotherapists (Helen, Sarah and Michelle) each have more than 20 years experience in the diagnosis and treatment of lymphoedema. Helen also specialises in the diagnosis and management of lipodoema.

Call us now to book an appointment on 03 9899 8655 with one of our experienced therapists.