Looking for natural remedies for swelling in your legs, ankles and or feet? Did you know the swelling can be due to a build up of lymphatic fluid? Did you know lower extremity swelling can be a sign of a fatal condition? On this page, we will explain what lymph is, why it builds up and how you can drain this painful fluid out of your lower extremities (your legs, ankles and feet).
What is lymph?
The lymphatic system is a very important system of the body, but many do not even know what it is or that we have one. Most people know that we have a heart that pumps the blood, which delivers much needed oxygen and nutrients to every cell in the body and carries the de-oxygenated blood to the lungs and our metabolic waste to the liver, kidneys and other detoxing organs, so we can clear out the waste of metabolism.
But did you know that when blood flows into capillary beds, fluid leaves the vessels to bring nutrients to the cells in the tissues, and not all of this fluid makes it back to the veins?
This extra fluid is called lymph.
This lymphatic fluid is full of cell waste like lactic acid. Yes, LITERALLY ACID. That is why too much build of up lymph can lead to swelling, pain or both. Lymph also carries the infection fighting white blood cells throughout the body. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LYMPH.
How & why lymphatic fluid causes swelling?
Lymph needs assistance from your muscles to drain. When the muscles are stuck in chronic contraction (as in a knot or charley horse) can you see how that can impair the drainage of the extra fluid in your tissues?
This is why movement is imperative for the drainage of lymph. When you sit, your hip flexors (the muscles in your groin) are in a contracted state, impairing the drainage of your lymph.
At a minimum, prolonged sitting increases swelling of the ankles, and over time, the swelling can become uncomfortable and even painful.
When your ankles are swollen, it hurts to bear weight at first. As you move around, the fluids causing the swelling drain, and the pain lessens. It doesn’t take a noticeable amount of swelling to be painful. Patients who have swelling caused by too much sitting are often relieved to find out they don’t need to buy expensive orthotics (as their pain is not caused by plantar fasciitis but excess toxic lymph).
Other Causes of Swollen Feet and ankles
Feet and ankles can also swell from standing for long periods of time on a regular basis, flying in airplanes, long commutes (sitting too long without moving), genetic weakness of the valves of the blood and lymph vessels that allows back-flow of fluid, or damaged vessels.
Back-flow in the veins and/or lymph vessels puts even more pressure on valves and causes them to stretch apart, allowing even more back flow. Like a balloon, once the valves have been stretched, it’s easier for them to stretch again, making the valves less able to hold back further back-flow.
Swelling can be a sign of a fatal condition!
Blood clots, kidney failure and heart failure can also lead to swelling of the lower extremities. This is why if you have swollen extremities, it is imperative you see a healthcare provider, like one of us here at Drummond Chiropractic, to determine the root cause of your swelling. You do NOT want to attempt the following natural remedies if your swelling is due to a serious condition. Such swelling is a sign of an underlying condition. You do not want to treat the symptom but the root cause of your swelling. We can help you determine if your swelling is something we can treat naturally, or if you have to be sent to a heart, kidney, vein or other type of specialist.
Natural Remedies for Swelling
of the legs, ankles and or feet
To relieve swelling in the legs, ankles or feet, you can perform the Foot ABCs for Lymphatic Drainage and elevate your feet often. This drains the lower extremities of the excess fluid.
If the swelling is due to the valves of the lymph vessels being damaged, the relief will be temporary because standing up will cause the legs to swell again.
If raising the feet above the heart is not enough to provide lasting relief, you may need to wear compression stockings. You can choose from a variety of compression hose that come in different lengths and amounts of pressure.
Graduated compression socks are effective at preventing and treating varicose veins and swelling of the lower extremities. They gently squeeze the vein and lymph vessel walls together so they can close and prevent the back-flow from occurring.
Usually medical compression stockings are 15 mmHg or higher to compress the legs enough to support the veins and lymph vessels of the lower legs.
EXERCISES AND STRETCHES FOR SWELLING
THE ABOVE IS FROM DR.KARIN'S COMBAT FOOT PAIN. Specifically, Chapter 19. Here we explain how to strengthen the muscles of the lower extremities to help support the foot and stretch the muscles and joints of the lower legs and feet to help alleviate ankle pain.
HEAT OR ICE?
IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING FOOT OR ANKLE PAIN and are looking for an alternative to over-the-counter pain relievers, temperature therapy may be an option. Heat therapy and ice therapy are useful, and sometimes can be used interchangeably.
Heat is a great analgesic (pain reducer) and opens up capillary beds, bringing more blood to the region that is experiencing pain. This is great for tight muscles. However, heat therapy is also inflammatory. If your foot or ankle pain is caused by inflammation, heat can make it worse.
Like heat, ice is a great analgesic. But ice is also an anti-inflammatory. Ice therapy is a suitable treatment for acute injuries (during the inflamed state) because ice therapy causes your blood vessels to constrict, which reduces blood supply to the region. But if you don’t have any inflammation, ice therapy is unhealthy for tissues already starved for blood, as with foot or ankle pain that is caused by spastic muscles.
Be careful with heat and ice. They are very effective tools when used correctly, but they can be dangerous when used incorrectly or to treat the wrong ailment.
Patients often make an emergency visit to my office after sleeping with a heating pad. This is a dangerous practice. It is too easy to overheat the region and wake up in a terribly inflamed state.
It is also dangerous to sleep with an ice pack, especially if you are on pain pills. I have had more than one patient wake up with frostbite under an ice pack after having slept with one.
I believe the safest self-treatment for most foot pain is to
1. Heat the lower leg muscles (avoiding the ankle and foot) for ten minutes to bring nutrient-filled blood to the area and to relax the muscles of the lower extremity.
2. Stretch the calf and lower leg muscles gently while the muscles are warm and pliable (as shown in the stretches mentioned above).
3. Finish with two minutes of ice to the most intense spot of pain in the ankle to calm any inflammation that may have worsened with the heat and stretching.
TAKING PAIN PILLS FOR YOUR PAIN? STOP!
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Drummond Chiropractic, LLC
Best Chiropractors in Bloomington
565 N Walnut St
Bloomington, IN 47404
(812) 336 - 2423