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At the end of this chapter, the learner will be able to:


  1. Differentiate between the components of the lymphatic and the venous system.

  2. Relate the function of each lymph system component to the formation of lymphedema.

  3. Diagnose lymphedema according to cause, pathophysiology, and stage.

  4. Differentiate between lymphedema and chronic venous insufficiency.

  5. Define the components of Starling’s Law and describe their role in lymphatic flow.

  6. Select the appropriate compression therapy for a patient with peripheral lymphedema.

  7. Design an exercise program for a patient with lymphedema.

  8. Discuss the principles of manual lymphatic mobili-zation, as well as the indications and contraindications.

  9. Educate patients on skin care and strategies to prevent recurrent lymphedema complications.




Lymphedema is a chronic inflammatory condition that develops as a result of lymphatic insufficiency. Lymphatic insufficiency occurs from a decrease in reabsorption or a decrease in transport capacity of the lymphatic system. It can be primary malformation of the lymph system or an acquired condition due to obstruction or damage to the system. (TABLE 5-1)

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Table 5-1

Primary and Secondary Lymphedema: Causes, Onset, and Characteristics

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