Edema, or swelling is when there becomes an abnormal fluid accumulation beneath the skin or in any of the body’s cavities. Generally, the quantity of interstitial fluid depends on the balance of homeostasis fluid, and the increase of fluid secretion into the interstitium.

Five factors may contribute to edema formation:

  • Increased hydrostatic pressure may facilitate it
  • Reduction of oncotic pressure in the blood vessels
  • Inflammation may increase permeability to the blood vessel walls
  • The lymphatic could be responsible for obstructing fluid clearance
  • The tissues water retaining properties may have changed. Increased hydrostatic pressure can often reflect the kidneys ability to retain water and sodium

Picture of Edema

colorado foot institute edema (swollen feet and legs

Organ Specific Edema

Edema can occur in specific or isolated organs in the form of inflammation, like pharyngitis, pandcreatitis, or tendonitis for instance. Tissue specific organisms can be responsible for the development of edema in certain organs.
Examples can include:

  • Cerebral Edema is when the brain accumulates extracellular fluid. It occurs in abnormal or toxic metabolic states or conditions like systemic lupus. It can cause drowsiness or even loss of conciseness.
  • Pulmonary Edema can occur when pressure in the lungs blood vessels rises due to an obstruction or removal of blood by the pulmonary veins. This can be the result of what happens when the left heart ventricle fails. It can also be the result of inhaling harmful chemicals or experiencing altitude sickness. Pulmonary edema can result in shortness of breath. The accumulation of fluid in the pleural cavity may also cause pleural effusions.
  • Edema can also within the eye’s cornea glaucoma, severe keratitis or conjunctivitis or after surgery. It may cause colored halos in proximity to bright lights.
  • Periorbital Edema is when edema forms around the eyes. Immediately after waking is when these periorbital tissues can be most noticeable, possibly caused by the gravitational redistribution of the fluid caused by the horizontal position.
  • Cutaneous edema is more common and can observed in mosquito bites, poison oak and poison ivy rashes, bee stings. Edema caused by contact with these poisonous plants in known as contact dermatitis.
  • Another form of cutaneous edema is myxedema. Myxedema is caused by an increase in the desposition within connective tissue. In myxedema edema is caused by an increase in the tendency of tissue to retain water inside its extracellular place.
  • In human feet, starling forces are continually out of balance. This is caused by variation in the hydrostatic pressure within the foot’s vessels compared to facial edema is roughly one meter of water.
  • Lymphedema is caused by the interstitial fluids being abnormally removed as a result of the lymphatic system’s failure. This can can be the result of an obstruction, from the pressure caused by enlarged lymph nodes or a cancer, destruction of lymphatic vessels caused by radiotherapy, or infection within the lymphatic system.


Signs of edema may include:

  • Stretched and shiny looking skin over a swollen area.
  • When pressure is applied to the swollen area, a divit or dimple will appear in the skin once pressure is removed.

Dr. Mechanik will ask questions, and perform a full exam, possibly ordering tests to determine the presence of edema.

Edema Treatment

Edema can be either permanent or temporary depending upon its cause. The edema itself is usually caused by some other underlying affliction, and it is this underlying cause that is treated. For instance, quitting smoking will be advised to patients with edema caused by lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema. Limiting alcohol intake along with monitoring and treating any form of coronary artery disease is advised for patients afflicted by chronic heart failure.

There are many other things you can do to prevent this fluid build up in addition to the treatment of underlying causes.

  • Elevate your legs above your heart when laying down.
  • Support stockings, available at most drug stores, will apply pressure to the legs and prevent fluids from accumulating in your legs.
  • Avoid sitting and standing for extended durations of time.
  • Consult Dr. Mechanik about sodium intake

Let Us Help You

As director of the Colorado Foot Institute, Dr. Mechanik is Board Certified in Foot Surgery and Board Certified in Reconstructive Rear Foot and Ankle Surgery and has the medical and surgical skills to treat your foot conditions. He and his family are natives of the Denver area.

Dr. Mechanik received his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree from the the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine which is part of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, in 1995.

Dr. Mechanik then went on to complete a twenty-four (24) month post-graduate Residency training program in Foot and Ankle Surgery. Dr. Mechanik further advanced his surgical training when he completed his twenty-four (24)month Fellowship training program in Lower Extremity Musculoskeletal Surgery.

Dr. Mechanik is Dual Board Certified in Foot Surgery and Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle Surgery. He is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and a  Diplomate, American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.

Dr. Mechanik is one of the few podiatrists in the United States with his extensive training.  Dr. Mechanik sees patients from all over Colorado, the United States, and Internationally.  Dr. Mechanik treats adult and pediatric foot and ankle conditions and he sees and follow all his patients from start to finish.

With his expertise in foot care, Dr. Mechanik can help.  Call our office for a consultation at 303-333-3383.

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Dr. Joseph Mechanik is Certified by

American Podiatric Medical Associations
American Professionals Wound Care Association
American Board of Podiatric Surgery
American Collage of Foot and Ankle Surgeons