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If you fall and hit your knee, fluid can build up in your joint, causing severe discomfort and limited mobility. Oedema, also known as fluid retention, can occur when an excess amount of fluid builds up beneath the skin. Aside from injury, oedemas can develop from various hormonal and medical diseases.   Get to know “what is oedema” so you can learn your options for finding relief. Lifestyle changes and massage treatments such as foot massage and foot reflexology techniques can alleviate the symptoms of this medical condition. 


What is Oedema?

The lymphatic system regularly drains fluid from tissues and empties it back into the bloodstream to prevent it from entering your tissues. If the lymphatic system does not remove excess fluid from tissues, oedema can develop. The fluid builds up in the surrounding tissues, leading to visible swelling.  Oedema can happen throughout the body or remain localised in certain body parts, such as the arms or legs. There are two types of oedema: pitting and non-pitting. 

  • Pitting oedema

Pitting oedema occurs when excess fluid accumulates under the skin. The skin becomes indented when pressed. Several factors can cause pitting edema, including congestive heart failure

  • Non-pitting oedema 

Non-pitting edema refers to swelling of soft tissues caused by the accumulation of excess fluid beneath the surface. This type of oedema doesn’t show any indentation when touched. It is often caused by disorders affecting the lymphatic system, such as lymphedema, resulting from injury to the lymphatic system that can affect the legs and feet. 

Who is Affected by Oedema?

Most people with severe health conditions affecting the heart, liver, or thyroid can develop oedemas. Those experiencing malnutrition, pre-menstrual syndrome and menopause can have this condition. Some medical issues that can show symptoms of oedema include: 

  • Heart conditions such as pericarditis and cardiomyopathy
  • Renal diseases like nephrotic syndrome and end-stage renal failure 
  • Liver disease
  • Thyroid issues, such as an underdeveloped thyroid 

  Certain medications can trigger the development of oedema. These medications can include: 

  • Antidepressants
  • Certain heart disease medications
  • Corticosteroids
  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) 


Symptoms of Oedema

Your body may show these symptoms of possible oedema:

  • Puffiness or swelling under the skin
  • Joint discomfort
  • Skin discolouration 
  • Tight-looking skin

Other symptoms like shortness of breath and chest pain should be treated immediately at a hospital’s emergency care centre. These symptoms could indicate pulmonary oedema or a build-up of fluids in the lungs.

What Oedema Treatments are Available

Understanding what oedema treatments are available can help you create a therapeutic plan to alleviate symptoms. If you have oedema, you may need to change your diet, exercise, and take medications to treat it. In addition, receiving foot massage therapy like foot reflexology is another way to find relief for excess fluid and swelling. 

  • Weight Management

A weight management program, such as a balanced diet and regular exercise, can help you lose weight gradually and reduce excess fluid. You may need to eat less salt as extra salt increases fluid retention. However, you must follow your weight loss plan carefully to avoid experiencing side effects such as low blood pressure due to quick fluid loss.

  • Regular Exercise

about oedema sydneyThe lymphatic system does not have valves to pump fluid like the cardiovascular system. Lymph fluid moves from the extremities to the heart via muscle movement. Light to moderate cardio exercise can work your muscles, increasing fluid flow away from the swollen tissues in your body.  Some good exercises include swimming, yoga, or gentle stretching to lift the legs. The benefits of regular exercise go beyond maintaining a healthy weight, as they also keep your joints flexible and allow you to move freely.

  • Diuretic Medications

Medications called diuretics work by increasing urination. They can help the kidneys remove excess water from the body through urine. As a result, some patients may experience decreased swelling and improved mobility after taking diuretics.

  • Foot Massage Therapy

If you are experiencing oedema in your legs and feet, foot massage therapy can help drain the excess fluid. You may need massage therapy as part of an overall treatment plan that manages poor circulation in the body.     Foot massage therapy increases circulation and reduces swelling. The increased circulation helps flush toxins from the body, which reduces inflammation.    Massage therapists can use moderate pressure strokes to stimulate the lymphatic vessels in the feet and legs. The pressure strokes let the fluid move more freely, removing it from the tissues. Foot massage therapy has been proven effective at treating oedema; a 2010 study found it effectively decreased lower leg oedema in pregnant women.

  • Foot Reflexology 

Practitioners of foot reflexology rely on the connection between the feet and meridian points to all the internal organs and body parts. Foot massages on certain parts of the foot may restore and stimulate lymph flow in the rest of the body.   In foot reflexology, there are five zones on each side of the body. Each one starts on a specific arm and continues down the body and the leg until it reaches a particular toe on the foot. For instance, the fourth toe on the right foot corresponds to the main lymphatic duct. Likewise, the right ankle is related to the lymph gland and groin.    When you meet with your massage therapist at Wayne Massage, you can discuss the type of foot massage you need for oedema. We can assess your condition using our extensive foot reflexology knowledge and foot massage skills.    Depending on your needs, we can massage your feet or perform a full-body lymphatic drainage massage to help you reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort. 

Relieve Oedema with Wayne Massage

The foot massage therapists at Wayne Massage can reduce swelling and ease discomfort associated with oedema. You can talk about “what is oedema” with your massage therapist so they can offer a plan for your foot reflexology session.    Let us relieve your stress with a relaxing foot massage treatment that will leave you feeling rejuvenated. Call us at (02) 8073 9376 to schedule your foot massage appointment.    References:  Fluid retention (oedema)  https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/Fluid-retention-oedema    Fluid retention https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/fluid-retention    Non-pitting Edema https://www.osmosis.org/answers/non-pitting-edema    A guide to peripheral oedema https://medicinetoday.com.au/sites/default/files/cpd/MT2015-06-026-KUMARASINGHE.pdf    Patient education: Edema (swelling) (Beyond the Basics) https://www.uptodate.com/contents/edema-swelling-beyond-the-basics    Effect of foot massage to decrease physiological lower leg oedema in late pregnancy: A randomized controlled trial in Turkey  https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1440-172X.2010.01869.x