At ProFysio, we offer effective physical therapy for a multitude of medical concerns. One medical issue most people never anticipate facing is called edema, which is the result of fluid gets trapped in the body tissues, and it is most common in the hands, arms, legs, feet, and ankles. Edema symptoms include swelling, puffiness, stretched skin, or skin that pits after being pressed for several seconds. Long-term management focuses on treating these symptoms, and physical therapy may significantly reduce swelling.
What Causes Edema?
The underlying cause of the swelling differs, but it could be a sign of a serious problem, such as an untreated chronic disease. Milder cases of edema could result from sitting in one position for too long, such as if you were to fall asleep on a long flight. Salty food can also worsen edema symptoms, and pregnancy is another common cause of edema as the body adjusts to the growing baby. Edema may be the side effect of different medications, as well, including those to treat high blood pressure, steroid drugs, estrogen, or thiazolidinediones medication used to treat diabetes.
How Do Physical Therapists Treat Edema?
Effective treatments to decrease edema include:
- “RICE”: Rest, ice, compression, and elevation are the principles of injury care, to remove the strain from the affected area and prevent further swelling. Resting is important, and cooling the swollen area (“ice”) can reduce the inflammatory reaction and any symptoms of pain. Compression or wrapping an ace bandage at the swollen area can increase the pressure to move the fluid back towards the heart, especially when combined with elevation. Your physical therapist may also recommend elevating the swollen part(s) of your body over heart-level while you rest, as this can alleviate pain and swelling.
- Moving: Using the muscles of the affected area, particularly the legs, may be useful to pump excess fluid back to the heart.
- Massage: Firm strokes in the affected area can push the fluid back towards the heart and out of the swollen part of the body.
Ready for a consultation with our physical therapists? Call (732) 812-5200 today to speak to a member of our team at ProFysio and book your appointment. We have 5 locations in New Jersey to meet your needs.