Do You Have Edema?

April 24, 2020 1:17 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Edema is a condition that sometimes occurs after surgery. It involves fluid being trapped in bodily tissues, especially in the feet, ankles, legs, arms and hands. This causes painful swelling, and some patients may present with one leg or arm being much larger than the other. If left untreated, edema leads to painful swelling, mobility limitations, itchiness and poor circulation. Post-operative swelling should not be ignored. Here is a description of post-operative edema in Las Vegas, NV and why you might develop it.


Edema normally builds up over time, but there are instances where it comes on suddenly. Depending on its underlying cause, it can occur in the extremities, lungs, brain and even eyes. In orthopedic cases, it normally shows up where muscles atrophy due to limited mobility or in areas where your doctor performed surgery.

Those suffering from edema notice swelling, tightness and pain in the affected area. They will also see stretched skin, puffiness in the face, eyes or ankles, weight fluctuations, digestive issues, fuller head and neck veins, headaches and chronic pain. It is most common among older adults, patients with diabetes and pregnant women.

In the most serious cases, one limb may be larger than the other and patients may suffer persistent headaches and eyesight changes. Sometimes, patients report breathing issues and chest pain.

Why now?

While your doctor will review all surgical risks for you, there is always the possibility that surgery exacerbated an underlying condition. Edema arises from circulatory problems, tissue death and kidney disease. Any of these conditions can worsen after a surgery and lead to edema if they were not reported to your doctor or if these are new diagnoses that did not arise until after surgery. Diabetes patients also face more risk of developing post-surgery swelling in Las Vegas, NV.

If you were in chronic pain before surgery, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can increase the risk. The same pain may have left you immobile for a while, and the fluid pools in gravity-dependent areas. That is why it is important to stick to physical therapy and finish that treatment—regular movement and increasing your mobility can reduce your chances of developing edema.

Blood clots are also a risk from surgery and can lead to edema as pressure increases in the vein and fluids leak into tissue. Surgery may have also damaged varicose veins in the process, which can also lead to fluid leaks.

Fortunately, edema is relatively easy to treat. Compression garments, dietary adjustments, exercise and elevating your legs for a set time each day can reduce the swelling. Also, avoid sitting or standing for too long, and take quick walking breaks every hour or so. Even five minutes of movement can help you avoid this condition. Massage and oxygen treatment have also proven effective in treating edema. If at any time you have difficulty breathing or chest pain, report to the emergency room immediately.

Bernard Ong, M.D. is an orthopedic surgeon who will be with you through each step of treatment—we will not ignore any edema or post-op swelling in Las Vegas, NV. Contact us today to get control of your pain symptoms.

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