Massage Therapy to Help Prevent Edema

The benefits of massage therapy may include increasing blood circulation, reducing swelling, relaxing muscles, relieving muscle pain and spasms, and aid in recovery and range of motion.

My massage therapist Elaine Smith taught me about edema. Edema is observable swelling from fluid accumulation in body tissues. Edema most commonly occurs in the feet and legs, where it is referred to as peripheral edema. The swelling is the result of the accumulation of excess fluid under the skin in the spaces within the tissues.

The tissues of the body are made up of cells and connective tissues that hold the cells together. This connective tissue around the cells and blood vessels is known as the interstitium. Most of the body’s fluids that are found outside of the cells are normally stored in two spaces; the blood vessels (as the “liquid” or serum portion of your blood) and the interstitial spaces (not within the cells). In various diseases, excess fluid can accumulate in either one or both of these compartments.

Elaine told me that she could see the edema in my feet and legs. She explained that we all need to walk, move around every hour to keep the blood flowing through our legs, whether we have MS or not. Elaine also said when we are sitting; working or traveling, we need to put our feet up when possible. and get up and walk around every hour.

Since Elaine told me this, I’ve created a way to elevate my feet with boxes under my desk and I’ve set my timer to go off every 50 minutes to remind me to walk. After only a five days of moving and elevating my feet I had another appointment with Elaine and she could see an improvement. Elaine said my feet, ankles and legs were looking much better.

Have you struggled with edema (swollen ankles and feet)? What was the cause? Were you able to correct it with medication or life style changes? I’d love to hear in the comments below!


About our Co-Founder: With a bachelors in Social Work, Linda is 53 years old, happily married with eight children and 17 grandchildren. Diagnosed with MS in 1995 and now having accepted and truly embraced her new reality, Linda has created She is dedicated to proving that joy can be chosen while living with Multiple Sclerosis. Linda specializes in helping others, especially those with MS attain the lifestyle, independence and happiness amid living with MS.


  1. Thanks for posting this great post and video about how massage can help people with MS. Many people don’t realize that massage has a lot benefits that can help improve their health.

  2. My father had edema in his feet and ankles and it can be quite painful at time. I did enjoy the article although everything you said is 100% true I can’t think of any wise words of wisdom, so hey thanks for taking the time to write the post. 🙂

    • Ross,
      I thank you for confirming what I learned! And also for taking the time to comment! The morning that I went in for my last appointment, I woke up with pain in my right heal. The massage took care of the pain, my next post about message will be about the pain removal. Did your dad use massage to alleviate his pain?

  3. Linda, I love getting massages and in fact have gone once a month for a while now. Occasionally I have experienced a bit of edema, mostly because of sitting too long or eating foods with too much sodium. (eating out)
    I really appreciate you informing us of this problem of edema whether we struggle with MS or not and giving a solution.
    Thank you so much!

    • Lynn,
      I agree with you, massage is for everyone! It’s a bummer that I waited to have a ‘reason’ to feel justified spending the time and money on massage! I want everyone to know that massage is an enjoyable way to help prevent sickness!

  4. Interesting article… I’ve experienced that as well, related to Parkinson’s. It’s a “Catch-22” it seems. From lack of mobility comes the condition… and to modify it, one needs to be mobile.

    It’s one of those things that I found that we just may have to struggle to overcome and when you do find a way, it encourages us to try even harder. So, from getting up and moving around more, and from the weekly massages… I no longer have swollen feet.

    • Chris,
      Yes, and that’s what it is, isn’t it – motivation to keep trying!
      ps. I use the straps you sent me everyday!!

  5. Mario,
    Thanks for visiting! You’re right, difficulties come in all shapes and sizes and we’re all learning and growing because of it!

  6. Hi Linda,
    As a reflexologist, I encounter peripheral edema quite often. (By the way, I love the photo you have at the top of this post!)
    For my clients, edema is uncomfortable and embarrassing, and I’m always asked what can be done about it. I try to always be sympathetic and professional in order to allay their concerns and suggest they do a couple of things:
    1) Spend about fifteen minutes soaking their feet and ankles in a tub of warm water with Epsom salts. This is a remarkable way to relieve some of the symptoms of edema.
    2) And I suggest they apply castor oil to the edema-affected areas. This is also quite remarkable in its healing and swelling-mitigation properties.
    Both of these – Epsom salts and castor oil can be purchased inexpensively at your local drug store or natural food center.
    Hope this helps and take care.

    Wayne Nelson
    Redmond Reflexology

    • Wayne, Thank you for taking the time to share this valuable information. Soaking our feet using Epsom salt and castor oil would be a relatively inexpensive treat!

  7. I experienced edema because the nature of my work. I do foot spa every weekend to relax and not stress the whole day. I do searching online media to ease the pain with I’m suffer that. It helps a lot your blog. I do like it.

    • Cynthia,
      Yes I understand sitting at a desk really adds to the Edema! The foot spa is very relaxing! I have a foot rest under my desk so my feet can be lifted for large parts of the day. Do you have the space to be able to do the same?

  8. Are you talking about classic massages only or can machine-assisted massage at home help against edema as well? Because I red that massage helps fluid circulation and through that, protects against the accumulation of excess fluids in limbs.

    • David,
      That is a great question for Dr. Matt! I’ll invite him to take a look at your comment and we’ll hear what he has to say!

    • Dorine,
      I fixed up a stool under my desk so my feel are raised and I started walking more frequently and I really am not having a problem with Edema!

  9. Greetings! I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic job!

    • Danielle,
      I remember when I first started leaving comments! When it’s a new thing it seems bigger than it is! We love to hear what you have to say! FYI it’s best to leave a comment about the post you’re leaving a comment on, that way your comment adds value to the post!

  10. Massage make our body relaxing. After stressed from work, visit massage therapist once a week. So that, for the next week you will surely enjoy your body to do your works.

    • Shayne,
      Yes, massage feels the greatest and is really good for our health! I tried to get one of my kids to go into message therapy and no luck! Shoot, I wanted one to be a chiropractor, one a dentist, a physical therapist, a chef and no one did! My oldest daughter did marry a man who builds beautiful homes! So we’re covered when we are ready to down-size!

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