What is Oedema?
Oedema, also known as swelling, is an excess accumulation of fluid in the interstitium (the spaces between cells of bodily tissues). Because one sixth of the body consists of spaces between cells, the interstitium provides a great deal of room for expansion when filled with oedema. The injured hand commonly develops oedema as a result of increased capillary permeability, which allows leakage of fluid and protein into the tissue spaces. The presence of mild oedema post injury or surgery is part of the normal healing process; however excessive amounts of oedema can destroy the continuity of wound healing and affect the integrity of healing structures.
The lymphatic system – what is it?
The lymphatic system is one of the most vital systems in the body, and its prime role is to remove excess fluid from bodily tissues. The lymphatic system is an intricate network of lymphatic channels that drains excess fluid and other substances including cells, proteins, lipids, microorganisms, and debris, from the tissues to maintain homeostasis. When the lymphatic system is overwhelmed by the rate of capillary filtration it cannot carry the volume of fluid as fast as it is produced, and oedema develops. The movement of lymph fluid through the system is aided greatly by external forces: adjacent muscle contraction, tissue compression (e.g. massage, bandaging), and general stimulation (e.g. body movement, breathing). If healing progresses without complication, oedema begins to subside and motion is regained. However, if oedema persists beyond the normal healing period it can cause adverse effects, such as delayed healing, increased scar tissue, joint stiffness, pain, and consequently loss of function.
How is oedema managed?
At Hand Works we are specially trained in the use of techniques and tools to help reduce oedema rapidly and efficiently. Oedema control is of prime concern post injury or surgery to the hand and arm. The particular technique or tool used to help control oedema will depend on various factors, such as the type and location of oedema, the severity of oedema and how long oedema has been present for, as well as other personal factors including general health and presenting injury. Contact us should you need further assistance in managing your swelling.