Lymphoedema - Symptoms 

Symptoms of lymphoedema 

The main symptom of lymphoedema is swelling in all or part of a limb, which can cause problems with wearing jewellery or watches, or fitting into clothes or shoes.

Other symptoms include:

  • the affected limb feeling heavy and aching
  • the affected limb losing some of its mobility
  • pain in the affected limb
  • painful joints, such as the elbow or knee, caused by swelling in the limb
  • repeated skin infections in the affected limb
  • the skin on the affected limb becoming hard and tight, and blisters or wart-like growths developing on the surface

The start of symptoms

In around 1 in 10 people, primary lymphoedema can cause symptoms that are present from birth. Most people with primary lymphoedema will experience symptoms after puberty.

Secondary lymphoedema, which is caused by an illness or injury, can appear at any time. For example, if you have had breast cancer treated with radiotherapy, you may need to take precautions against lymphoedema for the rest of your life.

Read more information and advice about preventing lymphoedema.

Page last reviewed: 20/07/2012

Next review due: 20/07/2014


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