Fluid or water retention occurs when excess fluids build up inside the body. Water retention occurs in the circulatory system with an overflow in the surrounding tissues. It can cause swelling in the hands, feet, ankles and legs.
Lymphatic oedema occurs when there is an impaired function of the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is a network of specialised vessels (lymph vessels) throughout the body whose purpose is to collect excess lymph fluid with proteins, lipids, and waste products from the tissues.
This fluid is then carried to the lymph nodes, which filter waste products. The excess fluid in the lymph vessels is eventually returned to the bloodstream.
When the lymph vessels are blocked or unable to carry lymph fluid away from the tissues, localised swelling (lymphoedema) is the result.
Lymphoedema most often affects a single arm or leg, but in uncommon situations, both limbs are affected.
A thorough medical history and physical examination are done to rule out congestive heart failure, kidney failure, blood clots or other conditions.
Pneumatic compression devices
These are sleeves or stockings connected to a pump that provides sequential compression from the end of the extremity toward the body.
These may be used in the clinic or in the home and are useful in preventing long-term scarring, but they cannot be used in all individuals with congestive heart failure, deep venous thrombosis or certain infections.