Swelling in an affected limb after a stroke

Swelling develops when the affected arm or leg cannot move for a long period of time. A large amount of swelling:

  • Causes decreased blood flow in the limb, which increases your chance of developing skin sores (pressure sores).
  • Limits movement of the limb, which increases your chance of developing stiffening of the joint (contracture).
  • Causes pain and discomfort in and around the swollen tissues.

Some tips to prevent swelling in your affected arm or leg include the following:

  • Elevate the affected arm or leg. If your arm hangs down at your side for long periods of time, you will have more swelling in the arm.
  • If swelling develops, massage your arm or leg and wear support stockings (also called compression stockings) or gloves.

Last Updated: June 30, 2009

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