What is Edema?

“Edema” is the medical term for swelling. More precisely, Edema is swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in your body's tissues. When an indentation remains after the swollen skin is pressed, this is called pitting edema.

Edema happens most often in the feet, ankles, and legs, but can affect other parts of the body.

Image of Foot Edema - Swelling and Pitting

Causes of Edema:

  • Edema can be the result of medication, or an underlying disease - such as congestive heart failure and lung, liver, kidney, and thyroid diseases.

  • If you have chronic venous insufficiency, Edema can happen from a weakening in the valves of the veins in the legs. This problem makes it hard for the veins to push blood back up to the heart, and leads to varicose veins and a buildup of fluid in the legs.

  • Edema can occur as a result of gravity, especially from sitting or standing in one place for too long. Water naturally gets pulled down into your legs and feet causing fluid retention.

  • Being pregnant can cause edema in the legs as the uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels in the lower trunk of the body.

Complications of Severe Swelling

If left untreated, edema can cause:

Image of Leg Edema Swelling



    • Increasingly painful swelling
    • Difficulty walking
    • Stiffness
    • Stretched skin, which can become itchy and uncomfortable
    • Increased risk of infection in the swollen area
    • Scarring between layers of tissue
    • Decreased blood circulation
    • Decreased elasticity of arteries, veins, joints and muscles
    • Increased risk of skin ulcers


Treatment for Edema:

Since swelling can have many causes - edema is treated according to the condition. Things that help with swelling include:

  • Monitoring weight, salt intake, and cutting down on excess alcohol
  • Put a pillow under your legs when you are lying down (keeping legs elevated above heart level)
  • Do not sit or stand for long periods of time without moving
  • Wear support stockings or compression socks, which put pressure on your legs and keep fluids from collecting in your legs and ankles

For mild swelling, Dr. Segal’s Compression Socks are available in several fashionable colors and prints to match your style. Browse our men’s and women's everyday collection (15-20mmHg) that provides the right compression level to relieve achy swollen legs and ankles.

For those who need a little more compression to deal with moderate swelling, our 20-30 mmHg compression socks will provide effective support and help avoid complications associated with edema. Learn more about our medical collection for men and womenPlease talk to your physician to see if this level of compression is right for you.