What are the causes and remedies for swollen arms or hands?

Symptom Database

Swollen arms or hands can be a concerning symptom that may indicate an underlying health issue. It is essential to understand the causes and remedies for this condition to ensure proper treatment and relief. In this article, we will explore the various factors that can lead to swollen arms or hands and discuss effective remedies and treatments.

Causes of Swollen Arms

Swollen arms can occur due to several reasons, including:

  • Fluid retention: Excessive fluid buildup in the arms can cause swelling. This can be a result of hormonal changes, certain medications, or underlying medical conditions such as kidney or heart problems.
  • Injury or trauma: Any injury or trauma to the arms, such as fractures, sprains, or strains, can lead to swelling.
  • Lymphedema: This condition occurs when the lymphatic system is unable to properly drain fluid from the arms, resulting in swelling.
  • Infections: Infections, such as cellulitis or abscesses, can cause localized swelling in the arms.
  • Allergic reactions: Allergies to certain substances, such as insect bites or medications, can cause swelling in the arms.

Causes of Swollen Hands

Similarly, swollen hands can be attributed to various factors, including:

  • Arthritis: Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis can cause inflammation and swelling in the hands.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: This condition occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is compressed, leading to swelling and discomfort in the hands.
  • Raynaud’s disease: People with Raynaud’s disease may experience swelling in their hands due to abnormal blood vessel spasms.
  • Edema: Edema is a condition characterized by the accumulation of fluid in the tissues, leading to swelling in the hands.
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Nerve damage in the hands can cause swelling and other symptoms.

Remedies for Swollen Arms

Elevate the Arms

One of the simplest remedies for swollen arms is to elevate them above the heart level. This helps in reducing fluid buildup and promoting proper circulation. You can prop your arms up on pillows or use a sling to keep them elevated.

Compression Garments

Wearing compression garments, such as sleeves or gloves, can help reduce swelling by applying gentle pressure to the arms. These garments aid in improving blood flow and preventing fluid retention.


Gentle massage can be beneficial in reducing swelling and promoting lymphatic drainage. Use gentle, circular motions to massage the affected areas, starting from the fingertips and moving towards the shoulders.


Engaging in regular exercise can help improve circulation and reduce fluid retention in the arms. Simple activities like stretching, walking, or swimming can be effective in alleviating swelling.

Remedies for Swollen Hands

Warm Water Soaks

Soaking your hands in warm water can help reduce swelling and promote relaxation. Add Epsom salt or essential oils to enhance the soothing effect. Ensure the water is not too hot to avoid burns.

Hand Exercises

Performing hand exercises can help improve blood flow and reduce swelling. Squeezing a stress ball, opening and closing your fists, and stretching your fingers can all be beneficial in relieving hand swelling.

Avoid Triggers

If you have identified specific triggers for hand swelling, such as certain foods or allergens, it is important to avoid them. This can help prevent allergic reactions and subsequent swelling.


In some cases, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, can provide temporary relief from hand swelling. However, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before taking any medication.

Treatment for Swollen Arms and Hands

If home remedies do not provide sufficient relief or if the swelling persists or worsens, it is crucial to seek medical attention. A healthcare professional can diagnose the underlying cause of the swelling and recommend appropriate treatment options, which may include:

  • Prescription medications to reduce inflammation or treat underlying conditions
  • Physical therapy to improve lymphatic drainage and reduce swelling
  • Surgical interventions for severe cases, such as lymphedema

It is important to remember that the treatment for swollen arms or hands depends on the underlying cause. Therefore, proper diagnosis by a healthcare professional is essential for effective treatment.

In conclusion, swollen arms or hands can be caused by various factors, including fluid retention, injuries, infections, or underlying medical conditions. Home remedies such as elevation, compression garments, massage, and exercise can provide relief. However, if the swelling persists or worsens, medical attention should be sought for proper diagnosis and treatment. By understanding the causes and remedies for swollen arms or hands, individuals can take appropriate steps to alleviate discomfort and improve their overall well-being.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
Add a comment