How do I Reduce Swelling?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Swelling in the joints and extremities can occur for a variety of reasons. Often, the swelling can trigger a fair amount of pain and discomfort. Fortunately, there are several effective ways to deal with the origin of the issue and reduce swelling before any long-term damage takes place.

Limiting the amount of caffeinated foods and drinks, such as coffee, in your diet can reduce swelling.
Limiting the amount of caffeinated foods and drinks, such as coffee, in your diet can reduce swelling.

One of the more common reasons behind swelling is some sort of physical trauma to the body. Slipping on wet pavement, twisting an ankle while running, or even something like walking into a door may create some type of swelling that must be addressed quickly. Applying ice as soon as possible will help to lower swelling and help facilitate the healing process.

Massaging the swollen area can reduce swelling.
Massaging the swollen area can reduce swelling.

Standing for long periods of time sometimes trigger swelling in the legs and ankles. The quickest way to reduce swelling in this situation is to lie down. Getting off your feet provides a chance for gravity to take over and begin to relieve stress on your feet and legs. Even sitting down in a comfortable chair may be enough to help with swollen ankles, especially if your feet are propped up with an ottoman.

Swelling can occur for many reasons.
Swelling can occur for many reasons.

Another common trick to lower swelling is to wear support socks or hosiery. Sometimes referred to as compression socks, support socks gently massage the legs and ankles, promoting efficient blood flow. Wearing socks of this type as a preventive measure is a good idea if you experience swelling in the feet and legs on a regular basis.

Compression socks may help to reduce swelling.
Compression socks may help to reduce swelling.

Taking a long hard look at your diet may identify that part of your difficulties with swollen joints has to do with what you eat and how you season your food. Minimizing salty foods can make a big difference. Reducing the amount of caffeine you consume daily may also lead to some relief. If you drink, limit your alcohol intake to no more than one or two drinks per day. Add more fresh fruits and vegetables and go for lean meats instead of cuts that contain a lot of fat. Proper nutrition will not only minimize the incidence of swelling but also ensure your body has what it needs to operate at peak performance levels.

Getting active will also help to reduce swelling in your feet, legs, arms, and hands. Exercises that get you up and moving stimulate the entire body, and help to minimize physical factors that may be causing the swelling. Discuss the types of exercise that would be best for you with your doctor. Between the two of you, it should be possible to design an exercise program that will help with swollen joints but will not aggravate other health issues.

Simple massage on your hands, feet, or legs can do a great deal to reduce swelling. You can even use basic massage techniques while watching television in the evenings. The stimulation will encourage health blood flow and reduce the potential for swelling to occur.

Your doctor may also prescribe medication to help reduce swelling in your joints. Generally, taking medicine is seen as an option only after making changes in your diet and lifestyle. Make sure you only take pills that are cleared by your physician; this will help prevent any incidence of an adverse reaction with any other medicine you currently take.

Ice is often used to treat the swelling caused by a twisted ankle.
Ice is often used to treat the swelling caused by a twisted ankle.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


I used to have a bad habit of popping pimples. Once they came to a head, I felt like I had to get that stuff out of my face, but squeezing the area would result in redness and swelling.

I learned that I could reduce the swelling around the pimple by using hydrocortisone cream after popping it. This is a low-dose steroid cream that works to reduce both redness and swelling.

Within minutes of applying it, I could tell that the swelling had gone down. This made putting makeup on to cover it up easier.


Eating less salt helped my aunt reduce the swelling in her face. Her doctor recommended that she lower her sodium intake because of her high blood pressure.

She caved one night and ate several slices of pizza with salty pepperoni on it, and the next morning, her eyes were extremely puffy. Her whole face looked like it was retaining water.

She knew that the salty pizza was to blame. She has seen drastic improvements since she decided to really stick to the low sodium diet.


@anon131853 – It almost sounds like you are having an allergic reaction to something. Did you take some new sort of medication the night before, or did you eat a food you don't normally eat?

I would try taking an antihistamine and see if the swelling goes down. If so, then it was probably due to an allergy. If not, I would go to a doctor, because it might point to a bigger problem.


@dudla – Bags of frozen vegetables are great for reducing the swelling of an injury. If you don't have any on hand, you can just wrap some ice cubes in a paper towel.

The paper towel is thin, so the cold transfers easily to your skin. It will eventually disintegrate, though, so you have to replace it once the ice shows through.

I have found that in addition to reducing swelling, ice also reduces the level of bruising that will occur. I've had injuries that should have been black and blue for weeks, but since I put ice on them right after they occurred, the bruises were much less pronounced and cleared up sooner.


If you use ice too much it will damage your veins!


For the last two mornings I've been waking up with my lips swollen. They are three maybe four times bigger than they usually are. I don't know what may be causing this but I would like to get to the bottom of it.


I am very overweight and I have read that excess weight can be a source of excessive swelling in the ankles and feet. I have read many stories of people who said this problem ceased when they lost a lot of weight. I'm hoping this is true!


I have the problem of swelling feet and ankles. I know it's largely because of my drinking too much caffeine (coffee and soda) on a daily basis. I'm trying to cut back and drink more water. I've heard it helps to drink eight 8 ounce servings of water per day. Also, the propping up of the feet really does help. Another remedy I use (keep in mind that I'm not a medical doctor so consult your physician first) is taking one 99mg potassium supplement daily. It does seem to help a little.


I like to use a frozen bag of peas or corn to reduce swelling. I find the small pieces better able to conform to the swollen area than big ice cubes. Plus ice cubes seem to be too cold to stand up against the skin for long periods of time and a washcloth blocks the cold too much.

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