11 Ways to Reduce Swelling

Do your feet, ankles, or hands look puffy? You may have localized swelling, which is sometimes called edema.

You can experience swelling anywhere in your body, but it’s often most noticeable in your limbs and extremities.

How often have you complained about swollen feet? In this article, you’ll learn what causes edema and how to reduce swelling.

A woman holding her swollen ankle after wearing high heels.

While you can reduce swelling at home in many cases, you might need attention from a physiotherapist or physician to address the underlying issues causing edema.

Our team of professionals at Maiden Lane Medical is ready to help. Contact us in Manhattan, NY today to discover how your swelling can be treated.

What Causes Swelling?

Many factors can cause swelling in your body. First, let’s consider the various types of swelling.

Lymphatic Swelling

Your lymphatic system is responsible for draining excess fluid from your body.

It helps remove waste products and excess fluid that drains from your cells, tissues, and circulatory system.

When your lymphatic system doesn’t function correctly, fluid can accumulate and cause swelling, stiffness, pain, and other complications.

Venous Swelling

After your blood delivers oxygen and other nutrients to your tissues and organs, your veins carry it back to your heart and lungs.

When you have weaknesses or injuries in your veins, they don’t transport blood efficiently, leading to retrograde blood flow or pooling.

This backup of blood flow stresses your veins and can increase the amount of fluid that escapes your veins into your muscles and soft tissues.

This can happen anywhere in your body, but it is most often found in the legs and ankles.

Injury-Related Swelling

Your body sends extra blood, including white blood cells and platelets, to injuries, which increases the fluid around the injury.

While this is a normal part of your body’s healing process, it causes swelling and discomfort.

Some of the factors that can trigger swelling include:

  • Standing or sitting still for an extended period
  • Pregnancy
  • Hormonal changes
  • Menstruation
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Medication
  • Allergies
  • Infections

Find out how our doctors can help you!

Is Swelling Bad?

As mentioned, swelling occurs as part of your body’s healing process, so it isn’t necessarily bad.

However, it can be a sign of other more serious health issues. Furthermore, too much swelling can interfere with the healing process or damage body tissue.

If you notice swelling, you can try at-home treatments.

If it persists or interferes with your mobility or ability to perform everyday tasks, you should make an appointment with your trusted healthcare provider.

How Can I Reduce Swelling at Home?

You can take steps to reduce minor swelling at home.

Some of the most common ways to alleviate the issue include:

Rest

If you have an injury like a sprained ankle or tendonitis, rest is one of the best ways to manage that injury at home.

Often allowing the injury to rest provides time for your body to heal, reducing your pain and swelling.

Ice

You can also apply cold therapy systems such as ice packs or ice baths to injuries.

Ice can constrict your smaller blood vessels and decrease blood flow. Ice can also provide relief by numbing the area.

Compression

A compression bandage, sometimes called elastic bandages or static or elastic bandages, can also help manage swelling.

For example, you can apply an elastic bandage to reduce ankle swelling if you roll or sprain your ankle.

Compression bandages work by restricting blood flow to the injured tissue.

Elevation

Elevating the swelling body part increases fluid drainage and reduces blood flow to the injured body part or inflamed tissue.

Medication

Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also help you reduce swelling at home.

In addition to medication, supplements like magnesium can be helpful. You can reduce your water retention and pain by adding 200 to 400mg of magnesium to your diet.

However, if you have a kidney or a heart condition, speak to your doctor first, as it may not be advisable to increase magnesium with those conditions.

Drink More Water

Drinking plenty of water has many benefits, including reducing swelling.

It supports healthy circulation and lymphatic function, as well as kidney and urinary health.

Exercise

Exercise also has many benefits for your health and well-being. When it comes to reducing swelling, exercise specifically increases circulation and stimulates an anti-inflammatory response.

When Should I Talk to a Doctor or Physiotherapist About Swelling?

You should make an appointment with a physiotherapist or physician if you have persistent swelling.

For example, the swelling might not subside with at-home treatment or get worse.

It could also return on a regular basis despite your efforts to reduce swelling at home.

A woman showing one regular hand and one swollen hand.

How Does a Physiotherapist Reduce Swelling?

There are several ways that a physiotherapist can help to reduce your swelling, including the following:

Modalities

A modality is a type of energy used to cause a physiological change. Physiotherapists may use electrical, thermal, or mechanical energy in treating an area.

For example, electrical energy may be used to stimulate the rhythmic contraction of the muscles.

This enhances the musculoskeletal pump, which helps to reduce the tissue fluid in the affected area.

Therapeutic Exercises

A physiotherapist can help you with exercises aimed at stretching and strengthening the muscles in the affected area.

These exercises will help increase venous and lymphatic flow, moving the excess fluid away from the body tissue.

Patient Education

Physiotherapists can help you to re-educate your body posture.

This is one way to help maintain a reduction in body swelling. Also, understanding body mechanics can help keep the swelling down.

Those with lymphedema are more susceptible to skin infections. Physiotherapists can advise you on skin and nail care to help you avoid these.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)

An effective way to reduce swelling is to use MLD.

It has the added benefit of improving the healing process and increasing lymph flow, aiding the removal of harmful toxins from tissues, reducing swelling, and re-routing fluid from congested areas.

The treatment feels like a massage and is relaxing as well as therapeutic.

If you have concerns about persistent or uncomfortable swelling and want to learn how to reduce your swelling, call Maiden Lane Medical in Manhattan, NY or schedule an appointment with our physiotherapy team today.

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