The presentation of lymphedema is very subtle, and its presentation can very depending on the specific cause of the lymphedema. However, patients with lymphedema typically present with:

  • Pain, tightness, fullness, aching, heaviness, discomfort, numbness and burning sensation that accompanies swelling of the limb.
  • Swelling is soft and pitting – gently apply firm pressure to the edematous tissue for a minimum of 5 second. The presence of an indentation that remains is a sign that reflects excess fluid in the lymphatic system.
  • Limited range of motion in the affected limb due to an increase in weight.
  • Chronic lymphedema causes thickening of the dermis, which presents as dry and firm skin with less pitting due to skin fibrosis.

Patients with primary lymphedema may present with other physical signs depending on the condition that was inherited. This includes:

  • Turner syndrome – shorter stature individual.
  • Kippel-Trenaunay-Weber syndrome – port wine stains; a reddish-purple birthmark that looks like wine was splashed on the skin.
  • Turner syndrome and Noonan syndrome – broad chest with widely spaced nipples.

Learn About Skin Conditions


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