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Self Care is Health Care

Swelling and Edema and the Trager Approach

The Trager Approach is an excellent alternative and complimentary way to relieve painful and immobilizing swelling of the legs. The gentle rocking, elongations, and passive range of motion will move the fluid out of the limbs and back into the circulatory system very quickly.

In the past i worked as a staff nurse in along term care facilities.   I would use Trager on those with any edema in lower legs when doing my treatment rounds after lunch, and remember the relief on my patients faces. Many of these elders had limited ability to move on their own, so swelling was common. The movement that occurs with rocking and joint mobilization was like a cool breeze coming through their legs.  The feeling of circulation returns, healing of cellulitis and a lightening of mood would occur. With some instruction to make fists in their feet, roll their ankles regularly, and pump their calves, they were able to be more comfortable.

Two other cases currently: a 79 year old, female, home health client with cancer has severe swelling in her legs.  Within 20 mins of gently rocking and sculpting both legs, we were able to get on the TED hose (used to help the fluid keep from pooling in the lower limbs while awake) on,  which would have been painful and impossible just before I started.  Such relief is not available with medications.

Another client, 63 yo, male, that comes to eliminate knee pain and wants to forestall or avoid surgery, has lower leg swelling and early signs of cellulitis (redness and inflammation on calf to top of ankle, and sausage-like toes.  Last night, since he had ~for the first time in months~ventured out over the weekend to rake leaves and sweep, had overdone the knee, so I spent a lot of times on the lower legs. There are some scabs on one leg that have been very slow to heal, which is common with swelling, so I used coconut oil when I was done to feed the skin. His ability to walk, feel his ankles and toes, and no knee pain after the session was rewarding for both of us.  

Do not underestimate the power of a soft, warm hand, skilled touch and open heart!!

untreated swollen legs