Symptoms of Edema
Edema happens when small blood vessels leak fluid into nearby tissues where it gets trapped. Body parts swell from injury or inflammation. It can affect a small area or the entire body. This usually affects the legs, feet and ankles. It can also happen in the abdomen, arms, chest and armpit area. Symptoms will depend on the amount of swelling you have and where you have it. A person with edema may notice:
- Puffiness of the tissue directly under the skin
- Local swelling
- Aching body parts and stiff joints
- Limited mobility in daily functioning
- Swollen, stretched or shiny skin
- Skin infections
- Weight gain and increased abdominal size
The following symptom may help your therapist to figure out the cause. There may be an indent or a “pit” that remains for a while after you push on the skin in some types of edema. This is called pitting edema. If the tissue springs back to its normal shape, it’s called non-pitting edema. With venous edema, a dimple is retained. With lymphoedema, there is a thickened skin fold. Lipedema mainly causes pain when pressed.
Causes of Edema
When your lymphatic system can’t keep up with the supply, fluid can accumulate under the skin and cause swelling. Failure of the lymphatic system usually indicates one of many serious health conditions, including:
- Heart failure
- Kidney disease or kidney damage
- Liver disease
- Impaired blood drainage (as a result of thrombosis, or by weakened vessels)
- Damage or blockage of lymphatic vessels (lymphedema)
- Damaged blood vessels (angioedema)
- Malnutrition (hunger edema)
- Certain medications (drugs that opens blood vessels)
Other causes for excess fluid retention include:
- Surgery: With breast cancer surgery, lymph nodes or glands may have been removed or damaged by chemo of radiation treatment.
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the body releases hormones that encourage fluid retention. Women tend to retain more sodium and water than usual. The face, hands, lower limbs, and feet may swell. During pregnancy, the blood clots more easily. This can increase the risk of deep venous thrombosis (DVT), another cause of edema.
- Prolonged standing or sitting: Sitting or standing for too long can cause fluid to stay and build up in the body’s tissue. This can cause swollen feet or thick ankles.
- Excessive salt consumption: For people who are susceptible to develop edema, their body will retain more body fluid with excess salt consumption than necessary.
Types of Edema
Primary lymphedema is a hereditary condition. The lymphatic system is not functioning as it should or is less well constructed. It can occur from birth or originate with older age. Damaged lymphatic vessels or lymph nodes as a result of surgery or an accident are called secondary lymphedema.
Lipedema is an accumulation of fat and fluid. Both the production of dispose tissue and the drainage of lymphatic fluid through the lymphatic vessels are disturbed. The complaints that arise are a swollen feeling in the arms and legs. Often we also see weight problems, pain and skin quickly bruises.
- Venous edema
When the valves in the veins do not work properly, oxygen-depleted and waste-rich blood and lymphatic fluid are not adequately drained. The legs feel heavy, puffy and swollen. Fluid build-up and dilated blood vessels cause pain symptoms. Well-known causes are high blood pressure, thrombosis and varicose veins.
Mild edema usually goes away on its own. Particularly if you help things along by raising the affected limb higher than your heart. Unfortunately, most of the underlying causes of more severe lymphoedema are irreversible. As such, there is currently no known cure for this disease. If left untreated, the swelling over time becomes more permanent; it doesn’t subside overnight and the area will begin to feel increasingly hard and solid. On the other hand, appropriate treatment can be implemented to reduce swelling and expel excess fluid.
The treatment should be given by a therapist specialized in edematherapy. At Fysio Masters, Mirjam Kuip is specialized. She has the necessary expertise to correctly diagnose and appropriately assess, treat and manage this disease. The care from the lymphoedema practitioner is aimed to:
- Reduce and prevent an increase in edema
- Decrease the “puffy, tight, swollen or tense” feeling
- Increase strength and movement of your arm or leg
- Prevent erysipelas
- Reduce and prevent skin problems
- Working towards compression stockings by temporary bandaging
- Reduce pain
The edema therapist must treat its underlying cause. To understand what might be causing your edema, your therapist will first perform a physical exam and ask you questions about your medical history. This information is often enough to determine the underlying cause of your edema. Once ascertained, the therapist will apply the approach that will be most effective for your specific situation. Our comprehensive lymphedema therapy may include one or more of the following treatment methods for the relief of edema in legs, feet, ankles, arm, face, abdomen and hand:
- Edema Therapy
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
- Compression Bandaging Therapy
- Kinesio Taping
- Therapeutic Exercise Therapy
- Edema Compression Stockings (elastic compression garments)
- Personalized education in self care
Request an Appointment
Do you have edema symptoms? Find out how our specialized Lymphedema therapy program will help reduce your swelling and improve your daily life. Pain-free movement starts here!06-10343160 Whatsapp +31610343160 Schedule Online