The lymphatic system has the pressure of thousands of tiny hearts which pump lymph fluid throughout our bodies. When the flow of this fluid is interrupted or impaired, swelling of the tissues and other problems can result.
The lymphatic system is a network of vessels (channels), glands (nodes) and organs. It functions as part of the immune system to protect against and fight infection, inflammation, and cancers. It also functions in the transport of fluids, fats, proteins, and other substances within the body. The lymph glands, or lymph nodes, are small structures that filter the lymph fluid. There are many white blood cells in the lymph nodes to help fight infection.
Individuals may be born with lymphovenous conditions, or develop these conditions and have them diagnosed later in life. Some individuals may acquire lymphovenous disorders as a result of the removal of lymph nodes during surgery or through damage to the nodes and lymphatic vessels following radiation used in the treatment of cancer. Other causes may include trauma to the limb or parasitic infiltration of the lymph nodes and vessels (such as lymphatic filariasis, common in tropical areas). In fact, it is estimated that as many as one quarter of world's population is affected by lymphatic filariasis.