Question for wheelchair users

I’ve been going a bad time recently and for the first time ever, I’ve been in a wheelchair for a prolonged length of time, 10 days. Over the past few days, my feet and ankles have swollen up and I can’t move my feet up and down or from side to side.

has anyone else experienced this and if yes, did you find an effective way or dealing with it.



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Hi Derek

I think most wheelchair users end up with swollen feet / lower legs. You need to raise them periodically. They’ll probably still swell up but it might be minimised. My shoe size has increased since using a wheelchair, I always had skinny size 61/2 feet but now they’re more like 71/2 wide fit. I keep my feet raised as much as possible. I walk a few steps using FES and a walker, but that’s the limit of my walking, and that’s more for a tiny bit of weight bearing and exercise rather than anything functional.

I should think that once your feet swell up, it becomes harder to move them. I can’t specifically say this is what happens cos my feet won’t do what I tell them to anyway!!


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Hi Derek, same here!

A reflexologist told me how this happens. When we need to pump blood round our bodies (that`s preferably always!), our hearts pump wether we move or not.

But its different with the lymphatic system. That needs to be pumped by wakling. Once we are static......Ive been static for years now…the fluid collects in our ankles and feet. Apart from raising your feet up, you need to get someone to massage your feet and ankles, in an upward movement, towards the heart.

As Sue said, they will still swell, but the massage can help. My morning carer does massage for me, so I am lucky that way.

I cant move my feet , or legs myself. I sit in a riser recliner chair in the afternoons and have my feet up.

Certain shoes cause swelling too, if they are closed in. Boottee slippers dont.

luv Pollx

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Assuming it’s a problem with circulation, a power plate can help. Do you have access to a gym, or MS Therapy Centre, as they might have one you can use.

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But don’t you have to stand on them Whammel? I’d have trouble stepping up onto one, let alone staying on it once it started to vibrate! Might be quite funny to watch me, but even though they have bars to hold onto I don’t think it’d be very safe. The trouble is that I probably could have done with a power plate to build up my core, about 6 years ago. Now it’s a bit late!! But maybe not for Derek?

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The gym I use has an industrial size one and wheelchair uses remain seated, while resting their feet on it. It seems to work equally as well. I guess you you would only need to stand on it if going for a full workout.

Incidentally, the MS Tust has a good guide to seated exercise and might be just the thing if you fancy a pelvic tilt.

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ooooo! not had a pelvic tilt for ages…ay now Boudica…behave yorsen!



so sorry about Boudicas naughtiness above! Cant tek `er anywhere!

No, seriously now,I did once try to put my feet on a vibrating platform…they wobbled all over the pace and fell off!!


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Maybe just get it checked out to be sure it’s not water retention. When my dad was immobilised, I got him a soft football to test his feet in. He was able to press in and roll his feet around on it. It helped a little.

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Hi derek,

I have had this problem since I stared using the wheelchair full time. Its called Odema , like they say try and keep your legs up just higher than the heart, I find this difficult because I have a conveen bag around my shins.

At night I sleep on my back with a bed wedge at the end of the bed to keep my feet raised higher than my heart, Every morning the swelling has totally gone down. Only to start swelling up again during the day! Cant win on this one. Exercise the legs and feet if you can that helps a bit with the blood flow.

Good luck


Thanks for all the useful advice above.

Hopefully seeing physio tomorrow. Trying to be as active as I can be which still doesn’t seem very much.

one thing that I have been doing, mainly with my left foot, as the right foot refuses to do much, is pretend to draw the alphabet with my left foot. A physio recommended this to me years ago when I was recovering from an ankle injury from playing football. She recommended to do this before going out on the pitch to get the blood flowing in the feet and ankles. This and the other stuff seems to be working as I definitely have less swelling and more movement, especially on the left.



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