Cause of Swelling and Inflammation

Swelling or edema is caused by a buildup of excess fluid in the tissues such as organs, joints or other parts of your body. It may occur in one part of your body (localized) or all over (generalized).

Common Causes of Swelling

Common causes of swelling (trauma, injury or overuse):

  • Sprain (ligament), strain (tendon or muscle), joint dislocations
  • Muscle pain, muscle cramps, muscle pull, muscle soreness due to overuse
  • Tendonitis, bursitis
  • Car accident, whiplash
  • Fractures, broken bones, bruises
  • Swelling after surgery
  • Sunburn, burn, tattoo
  • Dental swelling
  • Scars
  • Insect bites


Inflammation is considered swelling along with the other characteristics of pain, heat, redness and loss of function. This type of swelling is often caused by the body not circulating fluid well, toxicity, infection, and/or disease. Chronic Inflammation is said to be the cause of all degenerative disease. Although slight swelling and inflammation may be difficult to detect to the untrained eye, chances are if you are experiencing one of the following… you have inflammation.

Common causes of Inflammation:

  • “itis” conditions- colitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, bursitis, tendonitis
  • Allergies, asthma
  • Autoimmune disorder (MS, Arthritis, IBS, Celiac, Lupus, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia)
  • Infection, swollen lymph nodes
  • Cancer
  • Regularly taking medications or drugs
  • Digestive distress, water retention, bloating
  • Poor nutrition, too much salt/sodium
  • Hormonal imbalances, thyroid problems
  • Toxicity (due to heavy metals, chemicals, free radicals, recreational drugs, food additives, etc.)
  • Chronic or systemic infections (viral, bacterial, mold, fungus, parasites)

No matter what the cause, most swelling and inflammation are due to a temporary burden, or overload, beyond the transportation capacity of your body’s fluid system, otherwise known as your lymphatic system.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapy has been scientifically shown to “increase a body’s ‘body-liquid’ circulation (lymphatic transport) capacity after application.” Your healing and recovery time may be reduced along with “some kinds of chronic pain.” With inflammation, long term prevention and care may often require additional healthy lifestyle changes.