Lymphedema and edema therapy both aim to reduce swelling, but each has its own method for treatment. Lymphedema specifically is when lymph fluid is collecting under the skin, in the trunk, limbs, or other parts of the body. Edema is generalized swelling in the body, usually do to trauma, allergic reaction, or other inflammation.
Lymphedema is typically treated with manual drainage of the fluid with a pump, or by physical manipulation by a healthcare provider. Lymphedema also requires self care with specific diet, proper skin care, and by wearing compression garments.
Edema is treated by treatment of the underlying issues causing the swelling. For example, swelling from an allergic reaction would be treated with antihistamines. Edema symptoms can range from minimal, to life threatening—occurring suddenly or with a slow onset. Other edema examples like: brain edema, critical illness, and heart disease are very serious and require immediate and potentially long-term treatment.
Swelling in any part of the body affects movement and quality of life. Fluid leaking and collection tends to cause swelling in the legs. When the swelling is due to fluid blockage—in edema or lymphedema—the blockage needs to be removed through manual drainage or use of medication.