Best Chairs for Swollen Feet and Oedema

Swollen feet or Oedema (caused by a build-up of fluid in a particular area of the body, making the affected area swollen), can cause considerable discomfort to those suffering with it and significantly impact daily life, even when sitting down.  A persistent sensation of heaviness, tightness, and even pain in the affected area (usually the feet and/or legs) results in impeded mobility, less ability to engage in daily routines, disrupted sleep patterns, and an overall lower quality of life.

The good news is, specialist care seating can make a big difference in alleviating some of the pain and symptoms associated with swelling and Oedema!  In this article we will dive deeper into how you can better understand the condition and bring comfort to your loved one, client, or patient.

We will cover three main areas:

Understanding Swollen Feet and Oedema

As already stated, Oedema is caused by a build-up of excess fluid in a particular area of the body, making the affected area swollen and very uncomfortable. It is particularly common in the feet and lower extremities, due to downward pressure from body weight, or spending a lot of time sitting or lying down.

Some of the tell-tale signs of Oedema are swelling and puffy skin around the calves and ankles, stretched/shiny skin, swelling of the abdomen, and limbs feeling particularly heavy, tight, and painful.  This can make daily life a real struggle — walking, wearing shoes, and even just moving becomes painful and difficult due to the stiffness in the joints and ankles.  It is only natural that people with the condition then tend to stay sitting for longer periods to avoid that discomfort, but this only exacerbates the problem further and introduces new risks such as development of pressure ulcers, and postural issues.

Causes of Oedema

Oedema can be caused by many different factors.  Long periods of immobility are perhaps the most common cause, but some others include:

Pregnancy

The pressure of an expanding womb can restrict blood flow in the lower limbs, causing fluid to build up in the legs and ankles.

Poor diet

Eating too much salty food causes increased water retention from the increase in sodium levels, leading to swelling.

salt

Underlying medical conditions

Oedema can be a symptom of underlying conditions such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, or venous insufficiency.

Medications

Certain blood pressure medications and anti-inflammatory drugs can cause fluid retention as a side effect.

medication

Limb amputation

Trauma around the stump area following a limb amputation, combined with reduced muscle tone and activity, can lead to swelling.

 

Key Features to Look for in Chairs for Swollen Feet

Understanding the profound impact of swollen feet and Oedema on both physical and emotional wellbeing underscores the importance of finding effective solutions to care for those suffering with the condition. Specialist seating emerges as a valuable intervention to help alleviate pain, improve comfort, and enhance the overall quality of life for these individuals.

The following chair features are our top picks for you to look out for when purchasing a care chair for someone with swollen feet or Oedema:

Elevating Legrest

The elevating legrests built into most standard riser recliner chairs allow people to elevate their legs at the touch of a button, helping their blood circulation and reducing swelling. Dual motor chairs have independent footrests, allowing movement of the legs without changing sitting posture.

Elevating legrest

Elevating legrest

Adjustable Footplate

A feature of our Lento Care Chair, an angle-adjustable footplate that slides up and down to find the most comfortable position for swollen feet, is a must for people with Oedema. The Lento Care Chair also has an articulating legrest that can be extended to accommodate leg length, with extra padding to ease the pressure on swollen legs.

Lento care chair

Lento Care Chair articulating legrest

Tilt in Space

A greater angle of tilt-in-space improves blood flow, helping to improve muscle health and drain the build-up of fluid. When someone is sitting in an upright position, 94% of their body weight is supported through their feet, buttocks and thighs, putting more pressure on blood flow in these areas. However, as the angle of the chair is tilted back as shown in the diagram below, the weight of the person is distributed more evenly across the body, and blood circulation improves. This increases the flow of oxygen in the blood through the limbs, keeping muscle tissue healthy and preventing the build-up of impurities and fluid.

chart showing body weight distribution

diagram explaining the tilt in space action

Tilt-in-space functionality

Breathable Fabric

The dartex on our Lento chair is vapour-permeable which means it reduces moisture build-up and ventilates the skin. This keeps the skin hydrated, helping any infections clear up that have caused the swelling.

Illustration showing how Vapour Permeability in healthcare seating works to prevent and manage pressure wounds/injury.

Properties of vapour-permeable fabric

Higher Pressure Relief

Gel drop-in cushions provide a higher degree of pressure relief for someone who has had a leg amputation. The stump area of an amputated limb is a very sensitive area especially when the tissues are healing. It can be numb and painful, particularly as new blood vessels and nerve endings are forming. A replacement gel cushion or a layer of coolgel in the legrest wrap takes the pressure of the protruding area of the stump, promoting healing and relieving discomfort.

 

Our Top Chair Recommendations for Managing Swelling and Oedema

Lento Care Chair

With fully adjustable seat dimensions, the Lento Care Chair is a versatile seating solution for people with more advanced postural needs.

The articulating footrest and footplate height adjustment help manage swelling in the lower limbs, and it can be upgraded to higher spec pressure relief.

The Lento Care chair is designed to assist each person on their rehabilitation journey, promoting better skin health, circulation and posture with its ergonomic features. As their overall level of health improves, patients will find they are able to do things they haven’t done for a long time, like moving without pain, going to the toilet unaided or getting a better night’s sleep.

Lento care chair

Lento Care Chair

Karma Flexx wheelchair

Useful for transporting people out and about, the Karma Flexx has adjustable seat sizing to help accommodate any swelling or protrusions the client may have.

Various accessories are available with the Flexx, such as stump supports and padded supports for amputees.

Flexx wheelchair

Karma Flexx

Conclusion

Despite Oedema being a nasty condition that causes significant discomfort, there are thankfully various things we can do to alleviate the pain and greatly enhance quality of life for those suffering with it.  Purchasing a specialist care chair with specific features in mind can make this difference!  For example, you should look for chairs that allow elevation of the legs to ease pressure and reduce swelling, and then also particular backrests and cushions to ensure correct postural support which will also reduce pain in the joints.

Are you looking to buy a specialist chair for someone with swollen feet or Oedema?  We have had years of experience in specifying seating for people with this condition, and would love to help you find the correct solution for your loved one or client.

Book a seating assessment with one of our friendly care experts, who will join you and the user at their place of residence, to trial different chair options and find the one that brings the highest levels of comfort and care.

Free & No Obligation Assessment

Date Published

08/01/2024

Reading Time

6 minutes

Author avatar

Author

Ralph Hulbert

Ralph has many years' experience in the healthcare sector. In a previous life he worked in finance, and his spreadsheet skills come in handy for all the analysis and research he does as he investigates topics and solutions for some of the world's most complex healthcare conditions and challenges. Aside from writing in-depth articles and organising webinars and interviews with top healthcare professionals, Ralph also administrates Vivid's "Healthcare Pioneers Board", a large group of healthcare specialists with multiple disciplines, who are working together to improve care for years to come.

Brecon elevating legrest

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