What is Oedema?

22 August 2017

Have you noticed swelling in your limbs? If you have, this might be caused by oedema. Chances are you have nothing to worry about, but if the swelling doesn't go down by itself the condition could be a symptom of something more serious. At Wrist Supports, we've put together a comprehensive guide so you can learn about the condition and what you should do to treat it.

What is Oedema?

Oedema is the excess build up of fluid in your body that causes tissue to swell. The condition can occur in any part of the body but it's often easiest to see when present in the arms, legs, ankles or hands. This is referred to as "peripheral oedema." The condition can also occur in the lungs, in which case it's called "pulmonary oedema." This type of oedema can be dangerous as it makes breathing difficult and can cause people to drown in the fluid.

Causes of the Condition

There are a number of different causes for oedema, including standing up for long periods of time on a hot day. In most cases, oedema is mild and can be caused by things like:

  • Eating too much salt
  • Taking the contraceptive pill
  • Blood clots
  • Pregnancy
  • Varicose veins

In some cases, however, oedema can be a sign of a serious health condition. This includes:

  • Heart failure
  • Kidney disease
  • Malnutrition

Signs and Symptoms of Oedema

The most common symptom of oedema is swelling in the area. Pain is not usually a part of the condition; if you're experiencing pain, this could be a sign that you have lymphoedema or another condition altogether. Oedema can also cause the following symptoms:

  • Discolouration of the skin
  • Aching limbs that are tender to the touch
  • Stiff joints
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Shiny or stretchy-looking skin
  • Higher blood pressure or pulse

Treatment Options

Oedema usually doesn't need medical attention as it often clears up by itself. If the condition is in your arm or leg, raising your limb above your heart can reduce swelling. The following treatments can also be performed at home and will help prevent the condition from recurring. If oedema doesn't go away after you've had a chance to rest, you should visit your doctor as this might be a sign that something else is wrong.

  • Performing regular exercise
  • Losing weight if you're overweight
  • Wearing a brace or support to help rest the limb

If your oedema is caused by an underlying health condition, the swelling should clear up after the condition has been treated. As oedema is the retention of fluid, your doctor might treat the condition with diuretics to help relieve swelling and associated pain. Diuretics increase the amount of urine expelled by the body and helps get rid of extra fluid. Please note that these should only be taken if your doctor prescribes them to you as they can be harmful if you suffer from other health conditions.

Oedema at Wrist Supports

Suffering from oedema in the hand and wrist can be a pain. If the condition is localised in this area of the body and you want to speed up the healing process, wearing a wrist brace can help you rest and stabilise the limb. A number of the supports in our range for oedema have an adjustable design so even if you're still suffering from swelling, the brace will still fit you. Simply click the button below to view our range of supports specifically for combating oedema.


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