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What You Need To Know If You Have Swelling Legs

What You Need To Know If You Have Swelling Legs

It’s important to take care of your arms and legs. You don’t realize how important and useful they are until something goes wrong with them. Have you ever seen a person who has swelling legs or arms? This could be a case of lymphedema. Lymphedema occurs when fluids build up in the soft tissues because the lymph vessels are blocked, damaged, or removed by surgery. And when it is serious, infections can occur and may damage tissue around the lymph.

Lymph is the thin, clear fluid that circulates in the body to get rid of wastes, bacteria, and other substances from tissues. Edema is the buildup of excess fluid. So swelling legs and arms occur when too much lymph is collected in any area of the body.

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What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of lymphedema may include

  • swelling legs or arms
  • a full or heavy feeling in an arm or leg
  • a tight feeling in the skin
  • difficulty in moving a joint in the arm or leg
  • thickening of the skin (with or without skin changes such as blisters or warts)
  • a feeling of tightness (when wearing clothing, shoes, bracelets, watches, or rings)
  • itching of the legs or toes, a burning feeling in the legs
  • hard time sleeping
  • loss of hair

Types of lymphedema

Primary lymphedema is associated with genetic abnormalities in the lymphatic system. Secondary lymphedema is caused by damage to the lymphatic system mainly after going through surgery, trauma, radiation, or an infection. This is common for patients that are going through cancer treatments.

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For treating breast cancer, for example, many surgeries will have at least two or three lymph nodes removed from under the arm. Sometimes, radiation is also needed as part of the treatment. Both surgery and radiation can cut off or damage some of the nodes and vessels through which lymph moves. Over time, the flow of lymph can overwhelm the remaining pathways, which will result in lymphedema due to the backup of fluid into the body’s tissues.

How to prevent, manage and treat it

Preventive, management and treatment measures include maintaining clean skin and nails to prevent infection (use cream or lotion to keep the skin moist, treat small cuts or breaks in the skin with an antibacterial ointment, avoiding needle sticks of any type into the limb with lymphedema including blood tests and shots, using a thimble for sewing, using sunscreen and wearing slippers outside).

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Keep body fluids moving

You should also keep body fluids moving, especially through an affected limb or in areas where lymphedema may develop. To keep these fluid moving, do not cross legs while sitting, change your sitting position at least every 30 minutes, wear only loose jewelry and clothes without tight bands or elastic, do not carry handbags on the arm with lymphedema, do not use a blood pressure cuff on the arm with lymphedema, and do not use elastic bandages or stockings with tight bands.

Limbs should be raised higher than the heart when possible

The limb with lymphedema should also be raised higher than the heart when possible, and do not swing the limb quickly in circles or let the limb hang down, and do not apply heat to the limb. These can all make blood and fluid collect in the lower part of the arm or leg.

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Exercising

For exercising (light exercise and aerobic exercise help the lymph vessels move lymph out of the affected limb and decrease swelling), you should talk to your doctor before doing it. It is important to wear a pressure garment during all exercise if lymphedema has developed.

Treatments for lymphedema will depend on the severity of the condition. Treatments could be in the form of using sleeves, bandages, and pumps that can help lymph flow out of the arm, hand, trunk, or other body part affected by lymphedema. Others include skin protection and exercise and losing weight. You should contact your doctor at the first sign of lymphedema.

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Sarah Bonander

Writer, Human Resources Professional

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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