Edema can result following an injury, during pregnancy, or as a side effect of a more serious condition. No matter the provocation, it causes pain.
Edema occurs when circulation is such that the extremities (more often the lower) are unable to return fluid efficiently to the body’s core. Lymph and interstitial fluids accumulate in the legs, ankles, hands and/or forearms.
Seventy percent of women experience edema in the third trimester of pregnancy. Lifestyle changes that include regular exercise and daily elevation of the legs can prevent this unnecessary symptom; one that can lead to pre-ecclampsia (seizures in the absence of a brain condition) and even pre-term birth.
Regular reflexology sessions beginning in the first trimester is an outstanding preventative approach for this population. When starting out in reflexology in the early 1980’s, I built my practice working primarily with pregnant women. None experienced edema during their term.
If your client shows up well into the pregnancy with edema, take comfort. It’s not too late to bring relief. Read the very successful protocol that Moshe Kruchik, a fellow reflexologist and friend from Israel, has perfected. Then take a minute to watch him working on a 34-week pregnant woman with pronounced edema.
Here is an effective edema protocol that Moshe shared at the recent Reflexology Association of America conference. It is a good preventative procedure for pregnant women and excellent when edema exists for any reason. If the edema is a result of an injury to the foot, then be very careful with the first two steps. Move the joints slowly and only so much as to not inflict pain on the individual.
1. Pump – fast dorsi-flexion, many repetitions.
2. Rotate the ankle joint, many times in both directions. Take through the full range of motion.
3. Specific attention to the urinary, lymphatic and colon reflexes. Lymphatic reflexes are worked distal to proximal.