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Edema and swelling is our body's natural way of healing an injury; a part gets injured, the body sends its natural repair workers through fluids to fix it. These fluids usually accumulate in the injured location/part.

...and unfortunately, there are 2 common problems that comes with these repair workers.

  1. Firstly, these repair workers are good at repairing stuff, including injuries. However, they tend to cause stiffness due to their repair works
  2. Secondly, together with these workers, comes substance and stuff that causes pain and ongoing swelling

Usually if you see a doctor, be it a general practitioner or specialist doctor, they may prescribe to your anti-diuretics and anti-inflammatory medication to bring down the swelling and pain as too much fluids can increase pressure and damage organs/tissues.

This in turn can cause

  • delays to healing
  • additional and prolonged pain experiences
  • increased stiffness

therefore it will impair and compromises clinical and functional outcomes.

That's why our senior physiotherapists and hand therapists in our physio clinics will quickly work on edema  and swelling therapy management. This will take precedence first, then pain management then any forms of active movement or motion therapy.

Yes, it's important that we facilitate the healing/movement process, but in the case of edema and swelling management, we need to decrease the amount of swelling first because swelling and edema will get in the way of healing as explained above.

Edema Swelling Physiotherapy

Some of the edema and swelling management techniques and approaches that Phoenix Rehab use to manage swelling in our physiotherapy clinics include:

  1. Rest - it's really important to balance between exercising/moving the injured site and rest. Too little rest, and the injury will not heal well; too much rest will result with a lot of stiffness and decreased range of motion. Our senior physiotherapists and hand therapist will assess and determine constantly your body's balance to ensure best mobility, strength and functional results in managing edema and swelling.

  2. Elevation of the injured part in a position higher than the heart (not too high as that'd be too uncomfortable and may lead to compromised blood supply to the elevated limb) to let gravity help with the removal of the excess fluids in the injured site/area. You can use pillows but if that's too warm or inadequate sized, you may want to consider pillow foam leg elevator

  3. Compression using fingers (as in retrograde massage) or using compression garments will help with venous return to manage edema and swelling

  4. Icing / cold therapy is used when there is clearance and no medical/safety contraindications to using ice (such as open wounds or adverse reaction to cold temperatures). Cold therapy will help to decrease muscles spasms, as well as encourage the contraction of the affected area.

  5. Ultrasound therapy may help to accelerate soft tissue healing which decreases edema and swelling rate as well, which can be used to complement edema therapy.

  6. Active Muscle Pumping And Motions acts as a pump that accelerates the  entry and exit of fluids entering and leaving the injured area. If you move the joints, that will also maintain active range of motion for the unaffected joints.

  7. Retrograde massage and regular deep tissue release therapy may be helpful to improve fluid movement and return as well, to prevent "pocketing" of fluids.

If you have edema and swelling at any of your body or injury parts that has been persistent, please see a doctor or book a session with us - for us to assess and rule out any more serious issues.