A Guide to Lipoedema
What is Lipoedema?
Lipoedema is a bi-lateral swelling of the limbs which primarily effects the lower legs and thighs although may also be seen in the arms. The condition is caused by an excess build-up of fat cells just under the skin, which appears pale and feel cold to touch. The swelling generally presents symmetrically in the affected limbs, which appear much larger in proportion to the rest of the body. Unlike lymphoedema, the hands and feet remain unaffected with lipoedema, so a ‘cuff like’ effect is often visible at the wrists or ankles. The physical burden of carrying the excess weight commonly gives rise to joint pain, limited mobility and problems with posture and gait.
Lipoedema is often misdiagnosed by medical professionals and there is generally a lack of depth in the current understanding about the condition. Patients who present with lipoedema are often told that they are simply obese and are recommended to lose weight. The swelling is also commonly confused with lymphoedema. There is a suspected link between the two conditions as it appears that lipoedema can be an underlying cause of lymphoedema. This is thought to be due to increased pressure placed on the lymphatic vessels from the abnormal deposits of fat tissue, as well as a general reduction in movement due to the various physical and psychological impacts of lipoedema. In such situations, treatment for the lymphoedema may be prescribed, but the underlying lipoedema can go undiagnosed.
Causes of Lipoedema
The cause of the condition remains unknown, however it is suspected to be related to genetics so there is often a family history of the condition and those affected by it tend to be genetically predisposed at birth. Our current understanding suggests lipoedema only affects females and symptoms usually first become apparent during a period of hormonal change such as the onset of puberty, pregnancy or the menopause.
The Benefits of Movement
Keeping moving is crucial for people with lipoedema, and can prevent symptoms from getting worse. By helping to manage weight, and improve lymph flow and drainage, LymphActiv is a powerful tool for managing your condition and for better health. At present, there is no known cure for lipoedema but if identified early, it can be effectively managed to greatly reduce the physical, psychological and social impacts of the condition.
Through this series of blogs, we are hoping to create a useful source of information about both Lipoedema and Lymphoedema, two debilitating health conditions which remain relatively under-researched in comparison to other diseases. We will be covering various topics during the series, so come back in a few days to check out the next one.
The LymphActiv Team