Lymphedema. Eliminate Pain. Discover Treatments & Supplements

Updated: 10/11/23

Are you looking for relief from the pain and swelling of lymphedema? Have you been searching for treatments and supplements that can help alleviate your symptoms? If so, then you’ve come to the right place! In this blog post, we will explore some of the latest treatments and supplements being used to reduce inflammation and manage lymphedema-related discomfort. We will also discuss why it is important for those struggling with lymphedema to find optimal treatment solutions so they can improve their quality of life. With better lifestyle choices, a healthy diet, and effective treatments & supplements in place now could be the time to take control over your health.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a chronic condition that causes excess fluid to build up in tissues and causes edema, or swelling. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and it helps protect the body from disease. Lymphatic fluid moves through the system and when the fluid gets blocked, it causes swelling and inflammation.

The condition usually affects one arm or leg but in some cases, it may affect both arms or legs. Some individuals may also have swelling in the neck and head. Lymphedema may occur after cancer surgery. It may also result from abnormal lymphatic system development (primary lymphedema) or another underlying medical factor (secondary lymphedema). There is no cure for lymphedema, but proper treatment can help patients manage it.

Types of Lymphedema

There are two major forms of lymphedema: primary and secondary. Primary lymphedema is rare; it only affects about one in every 6,000 people. It is also called congenital lymphedema because the patient is born with it. Symptoms may appear at birth or shortly after puberty.

Secondary lymphedema, on the other hand, develops from another condition, like an infection, trauma, injury or cancer. Lymphedema may occur days after lymphatic injury, or it may develop years later. It may also be a side effect of cancer treatment.

Filarial Lymphedema

Filarial lymphedema is caused by a parasitic worm, which enters the lymphatic system through mosquito bites. It is prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions, and it affects millions of people worldwide. The symptoms of filarial lymphedema can range from mild to severe, and they include swelling, thickening of the skin, and blistering. Treatment options for filarial lymphedema include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and lymphatic filariasis medicines.


Lipedema is a type of lymphedema that affects mainly women and occurs when there’s an abnormal build-up of fatty tissue in the legs, buttocks, hips, and arms. The symptoms of lipedema can range from mild to severe, and they include swelling, pain, and tightness in the affected areas. Treatment options for lipedema include compression garments, exercise, and weight loss.

Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome

Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome, or CRPS, is a painful, chronic medical condition that often develops as a result of trauma or injury. This condition can cause extreme swelling and redness, especially in the extremities, and often causes severe pain, fatigue, and mental distress. This form of Lymphedema is challenging to treat, and patients may require a combination of physical and occupational therapy, medication, and pain management.


This form of Lymphedema is caused by a parasitic worm that infects the lymphatic system. Filariasis is a leading cause of lymphedema in tropical regions worldwide, affecting millions of individuals. The swelling often appears on one or both legs, and the skin can become thick, hard, and discolored. While limited medication can help with discomfort, there is no cure for filariasis. The management mainly focuses on compression therapy and skin care to reduce swelling and reduce the likelihood of secondary infections.

Symptoms of Lymphedema 

Symptoms may develop slowly and they are not always immediately noticeable. Sometimes the patient may only feel aching or heaviness in the arm or leg. Other times, the symptoms may appear much faster.

Patients with lymphedema in the arm or the leg may experience pain, swelling and aching in the limbs. The limbs feel very heavy and they are soft to the touch, maybe even denting if the patient touches it. It can also affect the head or neck, making it difficult to move the shoulders, neck or jaw. The patient often experiences tightness and swelling in these areas, including the neck, face, eyes, lips or under the chin.

Patients who notice any signs of lymphedema should speak to a doctor as soon as possible. Controlling the symptoms may stop them from progressing. Without management, the swelling may get worse. The skin thickens and hardens and it becomes difficult to move the limbs. The patient experiences itching, redness and sometimes a rash on the skin. The condition can interfere with wound healing, increasing the risk for infections.

Can Lymphedema Go Away?

lymphedema is a chronic condition that affects the lymphatic system, causing fluid buildup and swelling in the arms or legs. While it cannot be cured, it can be managed with proper medical care, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. Treatment options for lymphedema include compression therapy, manual lymphatic drainage, physical therapy, and surgery. It is crucial to seek medical attention as early as possible, as prompt treatment can prevent complications and improve the long-term outlook. To manage lymphedema effectively, it is essential to develop a self-care routine, follow a healthy lifestyle, and keep up with regular medical check-ups.

Can Lymphedema Cause Blood Clots?

Studies have shown that individuals with Lymphedema are at a higher risk of developing blood clots. The swelling and fluid build-up caused by Lymphedema make it difficult for blood to flow freely, leading to the formation of blood clots. The risk of blood clots is higher in the legs, especially if the swelling is severe or has been present for an extended period. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor the progression of Lymphedema and seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms of blood clots.

Symptoms of Lymphedema

Causes of Lymphedema

Primary Causes

Primary lymphedema can develop from mutations in certain genes in the lymphatic system. These defective genes impair the how the lymphatic system develops, weakening its ability to drain fluid properly. Doctors diagnose three forms of primary lymphedema based on when the symptoms start to develop.

If it is present at birth, the condition is called congenital lymphedema. Interestingly, female newborns have a higher risk. It affects the legs more frequently than the arms and both legs tend to swell. If the condition develops after birth but before age 36, usually patients start to notice symptoms during early adolescence. This is the most prevalent form of primary lymphedema and the rarest form is when the symptoms appear after age 36. However, all forms may be related to uncharacteristic lymph vessel development before birth. The only difference between them is the patient’s age when they begin to experience the swelling.

Secondary Causes

Unlike primary cases, secondary lymphedema is not a result of congenital development. Instead, it is a secondary symptom of another factor or medical condition.

Cancer & Radiation Therapy

Cancer can cause lymphedema because malignant tumors can block the lymph vessels and interfere with fluid flowing through. In addition, cancer cells can also cause the same interference as they grow. Similarly, radiation therapy for cancer can also cause scar tissue to develop, which can block the lymph vessels.


In some cases, surgery for cancer therapy can negatively interfere with the lymphatic system. In an effort to operate on them, the procedure can cause damage and trigger lymphedema.

Inflammatory Conditions

Disorders that cause inflammation may cause irreversible damage to the lymphatic system. For example, patients with eczema, psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis may suffer from lymphedema.


Lymphedema may also develop from an infection in the body. For example, cellulitis is a severe bacterial infection and it may damage the tissue around the lymphatic vessels. The tissue may scar and increase the risk for lymphedema. In addition, it may also develop from a parasitic infection.

Cardiovascular Disorders

Varicose veins, venous leg ulcers and deep vein thrombosis are all cardiovascular conditions that disrupt blood flow through the body. When blood flow is disrupted, it increases pressure and causes swelling.


In more rare cases, if a patient suffers from a very serious injury that causes severe scarring, it may increase the risk of lymphedema. For example, burns can cause very deep scarring.

Treating Lymphedema

Compression Therapy

One of the most widely used methods of treating lymphedema is compression therapy. This involves wearing specially designed compression garments, such as sleeves or stockings, on the affected limb(s) to help reduce swelling. These garments are designed to create pressure in the affected area, thereby encouraging excess fluid to move back into the lymphatic system. Compression therapy can be quite effective in controlling lymphedema and is often recommended as a first-line treatment.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)

Manual lymphatic drainage is a type of massage therapy that is used to stimulate the lymphatic system and encourage the movement of fluid away from the affected region. This type of therapy is usually performed by a certified therapist trained in the technique. During the procedure, the therapist uses gentle, rhythmic strokes to move lymphatic fluid towards the lymph nodes, where it can be processed and eliminated from the body. MLD can help reduce swelling, improve range of motion, and alleviate pain associated with lymphedema.


Regular exercise can also be beneficial for individuals with lymphedema. Exercise can help improve lymphatic flow, reduce swelling, and increase overall strength and stamina. However, it is important to work with a trained healthcare professional to develop an exercise regimen that is safe and effective, as certain types of exercise may exacerbate lymphedema symptoms. Additionally, it is crucial to avoid overexertion and to stop any activity that causes pain or discomfort.

Complete or Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT)

Complete or complex decongestive therapy is a comprehensive treatment approach that combines several different modalities to manage lymphedema. This may include compression therapy, MLD, exercise, and skincare. The goal of CDT is to reduce swelling, restore normal function, and improve quality of life for individuals with lymphedema. This type of therapy is usually performed by trained healthcare professionals and may require multiple sessions to achieve optimal results.


In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to manage lymphedema. This may include procedures such as lymphatic reconstruction or lymphovenous bypass surgery. These surgeries are designed to improve the function of the lymphatic system and reduce swelling. However, surgery is usually reserved for cases of severe or refractory lymphedema, and is not typically considered a first-line treatment option.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

In addition to the above approaches, lifestyle changes can also help to manage symptoms of lymphedema. Patients are advised to maintain a healthy weight, avoid tight clothing or jewelry, and minimize exposure to heat. It’s also important to maintain a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, avoid smoking, and get enough rest. Patients should be mindful of any new symptoms and adhere to the treatment plan prescribed by their healthcare provider.

Other Lifestyle Practices

Patients with lymphedema should also avoid straining the affected limbs. Avoid repetitive motions — such as pulling, pushing, scrubbing or carrying purses and backpacks. Keep the skin as clean as possible and dry it thoroughly, but gently. Don’t neglect creases and the spaces between the fingers and toes. 

Lymphedema Exercises for Legs


One of the best exercises for lymphedema is simple walking. It’s easy, it’s low impact, and it can be done almost anywhere. Walking can help improve circulation in the legs, which can reduce swelling and inflammation. If you’re new to walking, start slow and aim for short distances. Gradually, you can increase your speed and distance. If you experience pain or discomfort while walking, consider wearing compression stockings or talk to your doctor about other treatment options.


Cycling is another great exercise for lymphedema that puts minimal stress on the legs. Indoor cycling is an excellent option for those who want to stay active during the colder months or prefer to exercise indoors. Cycling can help improve lymph flow in the legs, which can reduce swelling and pressure. If you don’t have a stationary bike at home, consider joining a local gym or fitness center.

Leg raises

Leg raises are an excellent exercise for lymphedema that can be done from the comfort of your own home. Start by laying on your back with your legs straight and together. Slowly lift one leg off the ground and hold it in the air for a few seconds. Lower your leg back down and repeat on the other side. Aim for 10-15 repetitions on each leg. Leg raises can help strengthen the muscles in your legs, improve circulation, and reduce swelling.

Calf Raises

Calf raises are another easy exercise for those with lymphedema. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly lift your heels off the ground and raise up onto your toes. Hold for a few seconds and then slowly lower your heels back down. Repeat this movement for 10-15 repetitions. Calf raises can help improve lymph flow in the legs, strengthen your calf muscles, and reduce swelling.


Yoga is a popular exercise choice for those with lymphedema due to its low impact nature. There are many yoga poses that can help improve circulation in the legs, reduce swelling, and promote relaxation. Some great yoga poses for lymphedema include tree pose, warrior I and II, and downward dog. If you’re new to yoga, consider taking a beginner’s class or following an online tutorial.

What Should You Not Do with Lymphedema

Do Not Avoid Movement

One of the biggest misconceptions about lymphedema is that movement will worsen the swelling. However, studies have shown that exercise can actually help improve lymphatic flow and alleviate symptoms. Strenuous or high-impact exercises may not be suitable, but low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, or cycling can be beneficial. Avoiding movement completely can lead to muscle weakness and further swelling.

Do Not Ignore Skin Care

With lymphedema, the skin can become dry and prone to infections. It is important to keep the skin moisturized and clean, as any cuts or scratches can lead to infection. Moisturizing products should be free of fragrances or heavy chemicals that can irritate the skin. Massages and skin creams containing fragrances or harsh chemicals can also cause damage and should be avoided.

Do Not Apply Heat

Heat can cause the lymphatic vessels to dilate, which in turn can lead to increased swelling. Hot tubs, saunas, or other sources of heat should be avoided. Room temperature should be kept cool, and any compresses or wraps should be cooled as well. This will help to reduce inflammation and minimize the risk of infection.

Do Not Wear Tight Clothing or Jewelry

Tight clothing or jewelry can constrict the flow of lymphatic fluid, leading to further swelling and discomfort. Garments that are too tight or constrictive can also cause chafing or irritation on the skin. Loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton or bamboo is recommended. Jewelry should also be avoided or worn loosely.

Do Not Smoke

Smoking can cause a whole host of health problems, but it can also worsen lymphedema symptoms. Tobacco smoke can cause the blood vessels to constrict, reducing circulation and increasing swelling. Smoking also weakens the immune system, making the sufferer more susceptible to infections. As such, smoking should be avoided completely.

Supplements for Lymphedema

Natural supplements may help improve circulation and lymphatic drainage. But before taking them, talk to a doctor about proper dosage and possible side effects. Supplements are also not a medical cure for any illness. Instead, they may help benefit overall health.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential in maintaining lymphatic function and reducing inflammation. This vitamin is known for its immune-boosting properties, and it also promotes calcium absorption for strong bones. A deficiency in vitamin D can aggravate Lymphedema symptoms. Thankfully, Vitamin D supplements are easily available in both pill, powder, and liquid form. Most people need 1000 to 2000 IU per day.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

If you have Lymphedema, then chances are you are dealing with inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. These fatty acids are found in oily fish, such as salmon and tuna, but they can also be obtained as supplements. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements in the form of fish oils can reduce inflammation in your body and improve your Lymphedema symptoms.

Digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes are great for anyone who has Lymphedema and experiences bloating, gas, and indigestion. Lymphedema often involves lymphatic fluid buildup in the abdomen, causing digestive issues. Digestive enzymes can help break down food and make the digestive process smoother. They are widely available in pill and powder form.

Butcher’s Broom Extract

Butcher’s broom is a plant related to holly. They have antibacterial properties and may also support circulation in the body. Research claims that it helps fight inflammatory and circulatory conditions. Butcher’s broom may also be effective against chronic venous insufficiency and other conditions related to blood clots. The recommended dosage for butcher’s broom extract powder is 500 mg up to three times a day.


Also called yellow or orange root, goldenseal belongs to the buttercup family. It can help the body fight infections — such as urinary tract infections — and also works as an antibiotic. Goldenseal may also benefit heart health and reduce the risk of cancer. As a dietary supplement, take 500 mg of goldenseal powder, once or twice a day, or following a doctor’s instructions.

Corn Silk Extract

People usually throw away the silky threads at the top and sides of a corn stalk. However, corn silk may actually provide a variety of health benefits. These include treating obesity, prostate disorders, PMS and carpal tunnel syndrome. It can also help rid boils from the skin. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help patients with lymphedema. The recommended dosage for corn silk extract powder is 1,200 mg daily with food or water, after consulting a physician.


Packed with several vitamins and beneficial alkaloids, people use fenugreek for its numerous potential health benefits. Its role as a medicinal agent dates back to ancient times, addressing digestive problems, inducing labor and healing wounds. It has antioxidant properties that help the body fight disease. It contains various vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C and potassium. Research states that it may also help fight cancer cell growth. As a dietary supplement, take 1,000 mg of fenugreek powder up to three times a day, unless a doctor advises against it. Patients can also add it to tea or use it as a spice.

Dandelion Root

Dandelion root is a common ingredient in soups, teas, salads and wine. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and it is packed with beta-carotene. Research claims that it may be an effective tool against inflammatory disorders and it may even help reduce patients’ risks for cancer. However, research has not produced enough results to define its efficacy. The recommended dosage for dandelion root extract powder is 1,000 mg twice a day, or following a physician’s instructions.

Hawthorn Berry

For eons, people have used hawthorn berry to promote cardiovascular function. Several studies show that it may improve cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Its berries contain flavonoids, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents that minimize free-radical damage. It may also act as an effective topical treatment for sores, but research is not conclusive on its effectiveness. Take 1,200 mg of hawthorn berry extract powder once or twice daily, after confirming the dosage with a doctor.

The Bottom Line

Lymphedema is a condition that causes unusual fluid buildup in soft tissues as a result of a blockage in the lymphatic system. It carries lymphatic fluid throughout the body, helping to protect against infection. When it gets blocked, it causes swelling in the lymphatic system. Symptoms of lymphedema include swelling in the fingers, hands, arms, shoulders or legs. The swelling can occur after an injury to the skin — such as a severe burn — that causes deep scarring. It may also develop after cancer treatment or after an infection. The condition may also be congenital, meaning the patient has an abnormality in the lymphatic system from birth.

There is no cure for this condition. However, treatments can help manage pain and swelling. Treatment methods vary based on the cause and severity of the disease. If it results from an infection, patients may find relief from antibiotics. Other patients may undergo physical or occupational therapy. There are also lifestyle practices that doctors encourage, including exercising regularly, maintaining good nutrition, practicing effective skin care and avoiding infections. Supplements may also help by promoting healthy circulation and fighting infections. Research shows their effectiveness in enhancing overall health, but they are not a cure for any medical condition.

Author: BulkSupplements Staff