The symptoms of lymphedema can be sudden onset or appear over time.
In addition to swelling or discomfort in the area of the blockage, symptoms of lymphedema include:
- Numbness or a tight feeling around the swollen area.
- Loss of mobility or flexibility due to swelling.
- Signs of infection: fever, redness, warmth, tenderness around the swelling.
Causes of Lymphedema
Lymphedema can be either primary, where there is no underlying cause, or secondary, where it is a result of lymph vessels or nodes that were removed, scarred or damaged, typically after surgery. Infection, cancer and radiation treatments for cancer also put you at risk for lymphedema. In rare situations, lymphedema occurs as a result of inherited conditions that can present at any time during your life.
Lymph node(s) removal as a result of breast cancer surgery is common. Without sufficient lymph nodes to drain the lymph fluid, lymphedema may occur under the arm.