Edema and Lymphedema
Edema or swelling is a common occurrence during the palliative care phase for many conditions. Various causes and forms of edema are possible, with most palliative care patients suffering from a mixed form with lymphatic and venous contributions. Edema is most frequently present in the limbs but may be found in any region of the body, including the head and neck, trunk, and genitals. Edema can cause significant distress, reducing mobility and independence. Screening and assessment for edema therefore should be comprehensive and systematic to ensure the underlying causes of the swelling are discovered. Furthermore, the treatment goals of the patient should be accounted for in determining the treatments offered. Various treatments, with particular focus on compression and exercises, may be used but often require modification from traditional usage in the palliative care setting. In this setting, treatment focus is often on symptom management rather than volume reduction.
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