Most of the time, after an injury, swelling is inevitable. Some women also suffer from swelling during pregnancy. We are here to help give you some tips and tricks on how to reduce swelling. Below we have listed methods and home remedies on how to reduce swelling while also trying to avoid medicine or doctor visits.
What Causes Swelling?
Swelling is the body’s response to injury or disease when the body produces extra fluid around damaged tissue to keep it from receiving further injury. Injury is the main cause of swelling, but there can be other conditions that cause swelling as well. Other causes of swelling include the following:
How to Reduce Swelling
Most experts agree on how to reduce swelling. Below is a list of common ways to reduce swelling.
Continual use of a body part that has begun to swell can cause further injury and further inflammation. In order to avoid this, it is recommended to rest the body part for a few days and stay off of it as much as possible.
Applying cold to the injured area stops the blood from flowing to that area, therefore reducing the swelling. Some cold therapy methods include:
For maximum results, it is recommended to apply the cold therapy to the injured area a few times a day for 20-30 minutes.
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Just like with the cold therapy, compression also restricts the blood flow to the injured area of the body, reducing the swelling. Materials and methods used for compression include:
If using bandages, it is important to note that you must adjust the bandage as swelling fluctuates; so keep enough pressure on it, but not too much.
Elevation, especially of the legs, keeps excess fluid from building up around the damaged tissues, thus reducing swelling. It is important to elevate the area of the body above the heart for maximum results.
If you have exhausted all other options and the above methods do not work for you, medications are always an option. There are several medications on the market that reduce swelling and pain in the body. It is important to follow the dosage recommended for you as stated in the dosage guidelines on the bottle.
15 Home Remedies to Try
Bellow is a list of the best home remedies on how to reduce swelling.
1. Foot Baths
Foot baths, also known as hydrotherapy, is when you alternate between sticking your feet into warm and cold water baths. The warm water causes the blood vessels in the feet to dilate and the cold water causes them to contract. In turn, this allows for better blood circulation. For maximum results, place feet in hot water for three to five minutes, then place into the cold water bath for 30 to 60 seconds. Continuing alternating between the two baths for roughly 15 to 20 minutes. This should be done several times a day.
2. Epsom Salts
Adding Epsom salts to foot baths or even regular baths may also reduce swelling since Epsom salts can easily absorb into the skin. Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate that reduces inflammation and improves blood circulation in the body. For maximum results, keep feet in warm or cold water for roughly 20 minutes three times a week.
Exercising can move the built-up blood and fluids that cause swelling and send it back to the heart. Once swelling is gone, continuous exercising can also help prevent swelling later. We recommend aerobic or cardiovascular exercise such as running, swimming, or biking – anything that gets your heart rate up and blood pumping.
4. Compression Socks
As stated above, compression reduces swelling by restricting blood flow to the swollen area. Compression socks can be worn on the feet, legs, and arms to compress swollen areas on these parts of the body.
5. Magnesium Supplements
Some cases of swollen body parts can be due to magnesium deficiency. In order to combat this, take 200-400 mg of magnesium supplementation per day. You can also get magnesium through certain foods rich in the mineral:
Before taking magnesium supplements, ask your doctor if they are right and healthy for you.
6. Limit Salt Intake
Too much salt in your system increases fluid retention, making it easier for the build-up of fluids, otherwise known as swelling. Cutting back on salt can help decrease this fluid retention. Experts suggest choosing low-sodium options while grocery shopping in order to lower fluid retention and help with reducing swelling throughout the body.
Massaging swollen feet helps to relax the muscles, which in turn, helps the circulation in this area. Massaging also stimulates the lymphatic system which helps move excess fluids from the feet.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
Potassium is another mineral that can help with the reduction of fluid retention in the feet, and because apple cider vinegar is high in potassium, it can help reduce swelling in the feet. There are a couple of ways to use apple cider vinegar for feet swelling. The first way is to soak a cloth into a mixture of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water and wrap it around swollen feet. The other is by consumption. You can put two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a glass of water with honey twice a day to reduce swelling in feet.
Drinking eight or more glasses of water or tea per day can help the body flush out toxins and excess fluids that cause swelling in the feet. For additional benefits, you can also try drinking ginger or dandelion tea. These ingredients are both considered a natural diuretic which helps rid the body of excess fluids.
10. Move Around
If you are on a long car ride or your work consists of long hours sitting down, get up and move around to prevent and reduce swelling in the legs. Sitting for too long can decrease the circulation in your legs and cause a build-up of fluids.
As stated above, elevation above the level of the heart helps to move excess fluids away from the swollen area.
12. Lose Weight
Being overweight causes a decrease in blood circulation, which increases the chances and occurrence of swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet.
13. Ice Packs
As part of the cold therapy method of reducing swelling, ice packs can be used for small areas of the body such as wrists, ankles, and hands to reduce blood flow to the affected area. Ice packs are not suggested for larger portions of the body like the legs.
14. Ice baths
Similar to foot baths, ice baths require submerging the swollen area into water. But, unlike foot baths, you only use ice water instead of hot and cold water. The ice helps to reduce blood flow so that blood doesn’t pool up, reducing the swelling.
15. Cryotherapy Chamber
Cryotherapy is a method in which a person is exposed to extremely cold temperatures of -266 degrees Fahrenheit in order to reduce blood flow to the affected area. Cryotherapy initiates norepinephrine release in the body which helps reduce inflammation and pain in the swollen part of the body. This method has even been used by trainers looking to help professional athletes reduce swelling and pain from the injuries they sustained in the field.
Specific Body Parts
Below is some information on how to reduce swelling in certain areas of the body using the above home remedies.
Ice packs and elevation would have little impact on swollen legs. In order to reduce swelling in legs, it is suggested to use compression wraps or compression stockings to help stop blood flow to the affected area.
For knee swelling, it is recommended to use cold therapy methods several times a day. It is also beneficial to use a compression bandage or brace as the knee may make walking and movement difficult.
For ankle injuries such as sprains and strains, experts suggest elevating them and using cold therapy. Although not necessary, compression socks or braces may also be beneficial.
Similar to swollen ankles, it is suggested to elevate swollen feet as well as use cold therapy. Compression socks are also beneficial.
Going to the doctor’s office for something as simple as swelling can be a pain and expensive. That is why it is important for you to know how to reduce swelling from the comfort of your own home. We hope these tips and tricks on how to reduce swelling using home remedies will save you time and money.
Clara was born and grew up in Great Britain, and although she’s now happier with the weather in North Carolina where she resides with her partner, she does miss the ubiquitous teacakes. She graduated from a master’s in literature and worked for about 5 years at local news magazines as a reporter.