Edema Management

If you injured your hand, swelling immediately occurs. It’s our body’s reaction to an injury in order to heal. Edema is a completely normal response to injury—edema is a swelling caused by fluid retention. It happens when too much fluid is trapped in the body’s tissues. We retain water because the blood vessels in our hands expand, or dilate. This dilation makes it easier for fluid to leak out of the blood vessels into surrounding tissue, causing them to swell. Not only is it annoying to deal with puffy hands, but it can be painful as well if left untreated.

To effectively treat edema, you must first get to the root of what’s causing it in the first place.

Common Causes of Edema

There are many different causes of edema. Here are some of the most common causes that we see:

  • Bee sting
  • Hot and/or humid weather
  • Skin infection
  • Obstruction of flow, circulatory problems
  • Malnutrition
  • Kidney disease
  • Critical illness
  • Burns
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Medications
  • Pregnancy

Snap, crackle, and pop! Many people can make popping sounds with their joints, otherwise known as “cracking your knuckles”. But did you know it’s a bad habit for your hands? Here are 3 easy steps to stop cracking knuckles.

Symptoms of Edema

Typically, symptoms develop gradually and they always depend on the cause. A person with edema may notice:

  • Puffiness
  • Difficulty moving hands
  • Skin that retains a dimple after being pressed for a few seconds
  • Swollen, stretched and shiny skin
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Confusion and lethargy
  • Nausea

Finding Relief & Treating Edema

To treat edema, it’s critical to treat its underlying cause. There is physical therapy treatment available to you for edema. Treatment and can help reduce and prevent further swelling. Your physical therapist can offer specific guidance for treating your injury and swelling. Here are some ways to find relief from edema:

  • Cut back on salt
  • Massage your hands to enhance circulation and lymphatic drainage. Simply apply lotion to your hands and massage one hand and then the other.
  • Exercise your hands by making a fist and then opening your fist and spreading your fingers. Here are some other hand exercises to try for edema.
  • R.I.C.E. – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
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