Physical Therapy for Edema Management

Physical Therapy for Edema Management

Edema is a condition characterized by swelling of body tissues. The swelling occurs when excess fluid becomes trapped in the tissues. Edema can affect different body parts, but it is most noticeable in the legs, ankles, feet, arms, and hands. 


Edema can be due to an underlying disease, medication, and pregnancy. Kidney disease, congestive heart failure, and cirrhosis of the liver are some of the diseases that can lead to edema. 



Causes of Edema



Edema occurs when the capillaries of the tiny blood vessels begin to leak fluid. It then accumulates in the surrounding tissues, causing swelling. There are different underlying causes of edema. Mild edema can be caused by being in one position for a long time. 


This often happens after a long flight. If you experience leg pain after a long flight, you should seek immediate medical attention. Swelling and persistent leg pain can indicate a blood clot in the vein (deep vein thrombosis). 


Eating too many salty foods can worsen symptoms of edema. Pregnancy can cause edema as the woman’s body adjusts to the developing baby. Edema can also be caused by premenstrual signs and symptoms. It can be a side effect of certain medications such as those used for treating high blood pressure and diabetes. Estrogens and steroid drugs can cause edema. Tissue swelling could be the result of untreated chronic disease and conditions like cirrhosis and congestive heart failure.



Symptoms of Edema



Some symptoms of edema include swelling, shiny or stretched skin, puffiness, and pitting of skin after pressing for several seconds. The symptoms are mostly in the legs and arms. Increased abdominal size can also be a sign of edema. Management of edema usually involves treating the symptoms. 


Physical therapy can reduce the swelling. It is important to see a doctor immediately if you experience difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. These can be symptoms of pulmonary edema that require immediate treatment.



Diagnosing Edema



To understand the underlying cause of edema, a doctor will have to carry out a thorough physical examination. Diagnosis will include taking a medical history of the patient. The information can determine the underlying cause of the edema. In some cases, the diagnosis will include ultrasound exams, X-rays, blood tests, magnetic resonance imaging, and urine analysis. 



Treating Edema With Physical Therapy



Physical therapy can be effective in treating edema. Physical therapists use several treatments, including “RICE” or Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. This treatment helps reduce strain in the affected tissues, preventing further swelling. 


Moving is another treatment technique used during physical therapy. It involves moving the muscles in the affected area, usually the legs, to pump the excess fluid back towards the heart. Massage in the affected areas also helps push fluid out of the swollen body parts. 



Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies 



There are changes and home remedies that can be effective for treating edema. The remedies include movement of the affected parts, massage, elevation, compression, and reducing salt intake. It is important to talk to a healthcare provider before using home remedies.


Severe edema can be treated using drugs that help the body get rid of the excess fluid through urine. For effective long-term management, it is vital to find out the underlying cause of the condition. 




For more on edema management, call (917) 809-6752 to book an appointment with our professionals at Apex Wellness and Rehabilitation.

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