Edema (also called dropsy) is a medical condition caused by excess interstitial fluid. Brawny edema is a much more severe type of edema although it has many of the same characteristics as the more common variety. Because brawny edema can be an indication of one or more very serious underlying medical conditions it is important to understand how to tell the difference between the two.
The basic test used to diagnose brawny edema is to test for pitting. By applying pressure to the affected limb for several seconds (usually with a fingertip), the underlying fluid is displaced and an impression or “pit” is formed. The key to telling if edema has progressed to a more severe stage is whether or not a pit forms and then slowly disappears. Brawny edema is a non-pitting form, which means that this pressure test does not form a tell-tale indentation. The non-pitting quality is due to fibrotic changes in the subcutaneous tissues as well as changes to the outer skin layer, too.
Beyond a palpitation test, the physical signs of brawny edema are clearly visible. The skin becomes harder and thicker and often features a red or dark discoloration along the affected limb. The affected part also displays significant swelling and may be warm to the touch.
This disorder can affect almost any part of the body. There have been cases of the face, arms, and hands, but the vast majority of cases are seen in the legs, feet and ankles. This is due to the fact that some of the primary causes of brawny edema are chronic venous insufficiency, lymphatic obstruction, and renal insufficiency. All of these conditions may cause the body to retain fluids. Gravity draws these excess fluids to the lower limbs where they collect and cause swelling. Brawny edema can also develop from untreated edema. For this reason, any form of edema should be treated as quickly as symptoms appear.
Edema has many causes and just as many treatments. Compression stockings keep fluid from accumulating in the lower extremities, diuretics may provide relief, and eating less salt and other dietary changes may also be effective. As always, WillWellness.com encourages safety and consulting a physician if swelling appears or if there are noticeable changes to the skin. Further information about basic edema can be found HERE.
by Bob Parker