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How do I Choose the Best Treatment for Swollen Hands and Feet?

By Thomma Grindstaff
Updated May 17, 2024
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If you're experiencing swollen hands and feet, consult a medical professional to make sure you don't have a serious condition. When the swelling is caused by fluid in the hands and feet, it is called edema. The most common cause of this swelling is idiopathic edema — "idiopathic" means that the cause is unknown — and it is not dangerous. To make yourself more comfortable, you should exercise regularly, eat a low-sodium diet and drink at least 64 ounces (1.9 liters) of water a day. Other treatments to choose from include massage, the use of ice, elevating your feet and hands while sitting and wearing support gloves or socks.

When you have swollen feet, too much standing can worsen the swelling, especially around the ankles. Daily exercise is one of the best things you can do for these symptoms. Talk to your doctor about starting a regular exercise regimen.

One of the most important dietary measures to treat this swelling is to reduce your sodium intake. Cut back on table salt, and check the sodium content in such packaged foods as canned soup, snacks and convenience meals. Choose low-sodium alternatives. A good way to lower your salt intake is to replace salty snacks with fresh fruit and vegetables.

Proper hydration promotes healthy kidney function. The more water you drink, the more fluids and toxins you'll flush out of your body. If you drink at least 64 ounces (1.9 liters) of water a day, you should notice a lessening of water retention and significant reduction in the swelling of your hands and feet. Natural diuretics might help, too. Try drinking green tea, cranberry juice or apple cider on a regular basis.

Both swollen feet and swollen hands respond well to massage. You can massage your feet and hands yourself, or you can get someone to do it for you. Whichever you choose, the massage will aid your circulation. Improved circulation in your hands and feet will reduce water retention there.

The use of ice can help, too. If edema of the feet is causing you significant discomfort, then put ice on your feet for 10 minutes. Remove the ice for 10 minutes, then repeat one or two more times, if necessary. You can do likewise if edema of the hand is causing you pain. Ice helps to lessen water retention in swollen hands and feet.

Another treatment for swollen hands and feet is elevation. Edema of the foot can be lessened by placing your feet on a stool. Make sure to position your feet higher than your heart. Situate your hands on pillows in a comfortable position that is higher than your arms.

Swelling in your hands can be lessened by wearing support gloves. To lessen swelling in your feet, try support socks, also known as compression socks. The gloves and socks work as a type of passive massage, reducing swelling by promoting better circulation.

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Discussion Comments
By mutsy — On Apr 09, 2011

@SauteePan - I just wanted to say that when my sister was pregnant she had preeclampsia and had swollen legs, feet, hands, and even face. She looked like a totally different person.

Her condition was caused by an unusual rise in blood pressure that was so great that it risked her health and the health of her baby. Once she had a C section the condition ceased. It really only occurs in some women during pregnancy.

It was really scary to see my sister in this condition. I think she lost about thirty pounds of water afterward.

By SauteePan — On Apr 06, 2011

@BrickBack -That happened to me too when I was pregnant, but now it just happens when I stand for long periods of time.

For example, every time that I go to an amusement park where I am standing in lines all day my feet and ankles will be a little swollen. I try to drink a lot of water and avoid caffeinated soda that might make my ankles worse because it will further dehydrate me.

Sometimes I also get swollen fingers and can’t seem to take off my rings. It goes away after a while but at the moment it can be painful especially if I try to take off my rings. I also get headaches until I start to drink some water.

By BrickBack — On Apr 03, 2011

I remember when I was pregnant I had swollen feet and ankles. I would have to elevate my feet and drink a lot of water. I did not eat foods rich in salt; I just thought it was a condition that occurred because I was pregnant.

I was retaining so much water that at times I would be able to make an indentation with my finger and it would leave a mark. Sometimes my fingers would get swollen too especially when I walked for a while, but this all went away after I had my child.

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