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What causes lymphedema?
The most common causes of secondary lymphedema are injury, surgery, and radiation treatment. Primary lymphedema is congenital and is usually diagnosed by adolescence. In each case lymphedema occurs when lymphatic ﬂuid builds up in the soft tissues of the body, usually in the arm or leg. Lymph vessels collect a ﬂuid that is made up of protein, water, fats, and wastes from the cells of the body. Lymph vessels carry this ﬂuid to lymph nodes. Lymph nodes ﬁlter the waste materials and then return the ﬂuid to your blood. If the nodes or vessels become damaged or are missing, the lymph ﬂuid cannot move freely through the system. The ﬂuid can then build up and cause swelling, known as lymphedema. Not all edema is lymphedema. However, there is a component of lymphatic imbalance in all “Edemas.” Proper education, treatment, and management can prevent ﬂair ups, reduce volume, maintain tissue integrity, and increase functional mobility.