What is Edema?

Edema refers to the accumulation of fluid in the tissues of the body, leading to swelling and enlargement of affected areas. It can occur as a result of various underlying medical conditions or may be a side effect of certain medications. Edema is commonly observed in the legs, ankles, and feet but can also affect other areas of the body, such as the hands, arms, and face.

There are many different types of edema, including peripheral edema, pulmonary edema, cerebral edema, and macular edema, among others. These conditions can be caused by a wide range of factors, including heart failure, kidney disease, liver disease, pregnancy, and certain medications. In some cases, edema may be a sign of a more serious underlying medical condition, such as cancer or a blood clot.

Treatment of edema depends on the underlying cause and may involve lifestyle changes, medications, or in severe cases, medical procedures. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent complications and manage symptoms effectively.

Edema can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Heart failure: When the heart is unable to pump blood effectively, fluid can accumulate in the tissues, causing edema.
  • Kidney disease: The kidneys play a crucial role in regulating the amount of fluid in the body. When the kidneys are not functioning properly, excess fluid can build up in the tissues, leading to edema.
  • Liver disease: The liver plays an important role in producing proteins that help regulate the amount of fluid in the body. When the liver is not functioning properly, this can lead to edema.
  • Pregnancy: The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can cause fluid to accumulate in the tissues, leading to edema.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as steroids, can cause edema as a side effect.


The most common symptom of edema is swelling in the affected area. Other symptoms may include:

  • Tightness or aching in the affected area
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Stiffness in the joints
  • Skin that appears stretched or shiny
  • Difficulty walking or performing daily activities

How Can Physiomobility Help with Edema?

Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment option for individuals with edema


The main goal of physiotherapy for edema is to reduce swelling and improve circulation in the affected area. Here are some ways that physiotherapy can help with edema:


  • Compression therapy: Compression garments, such as stockings or bandages, can be worn to help reduce swelling and improve circulation in the affected area. Your physiotherapist can recommend the appropriate compression garment for your needs.
  • Exercise: Gentle exercise, such as walking or cycling, can help improve circulation and reduce swelling in the affected area. Your physiotherapist can develop an exercise program that is tailored to your needs and abilities.
  • Education: Your physiotherapist can provide education on lifestyle modifications that can help manage edema, such as reducing salt intake, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding prolonged periods of sitting or standing.
  • Modalities: Certain modalities such as electrical stimulation or ultrasound can also be used to help reduce swelling and improve circulation in the affected area.


Massage Therapy in improving lymphatic flow, reduce swelling, and circulation 

Massage therapy can be an effective treatment for edema, particularly for cases of lymphedema, which is a type of edema that affects the lymphatic system. 

There are several massage techniques that may be used to treat edema, including:

  • Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD): This gentle massage technique involves applying light pressure to the skin in a specific pattern to encourage lymphatic flow and promote drainage of excess fluid from the affected area. MLD is particularly effective for managing lymphedema.
  • Deep tissue massage: This technique involves applying firm pressure to the affected area to help reduce muscle tension and improve circulation.
  • Swedish massage: This gentle massage technique involves long, flowing strokes to help improve circulation and reduce stress.
  • Myofascial release: This technique involves applying gentle pressure to the fascia, which is the connective tissue that surrounds the muscles, to help reduce tension and improve circulation.


Physiotherapy and massage therapy can help reduce edema or swelling by improving circulation, decreasing fluid buildup, and promoting lymphatic drainage. If you are experiencing symptoms of edema, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and the most appropriate treatment approach. You may book a free consultation by contacting 416-444-4800.

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Physiomobility continues to remain open and is not part of the lockdown. We continue to have rigorous disinfection policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety of our community and are open for patient in-person visits with all of our practitioners.

Virtual appointments are available and encouraged for those who are at a heightened risk of illness.

We remain focused on our quality of care & our continued commitment to helping our patients feel their best. For further assistance, you can contact us at 416-444-4800 during our opening hours. 

The Physiomobility Team