Medical Matters > Can swollen hands and feet be part of having ME/CFS?

ME Essential Summer 2017


Can swollen and puffy feet, and occasionally puffy hands, be part of having ME? And if so what can I do to reduce the swelling?


Swollen hands, legs, or feet are NOT a characteristic or diagnostic feature of ME/CFS. These are symptoms that must be discussed with your GP if they do not go away within a couple of days, are painful, or get worse. A GP will need to take a proper clinical history, examine your arms, legs and cardiovascular system, and then arrange some basic blood tests (including thyroid function tests) and urine tests. If necessary, the GP can refer you to hospital if further advice or investigations are required to help with either diagnosis or management.

There are a number of reasons why swelling in hands, legs, or feet might occur. These include heart problems, arthritis, fluid retention from liver or kidney disease (the medical term for this is oedema), low thyroid function, as a side-effect or some drugs, and possibly due to the premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy or going through the menopause. It is also worth noting that swollen or puffy fingers can occur in hypermobility syndromes — which are more common in ME/CFS, especially in young people.

Treatment will depend on the cause. If this is due to fluid retention then diuretics (water-losing tablets) might be prescribed.

More information


Medical Matters is for information purposes only. The answers provided by Dr Shepherd and the ME Association’s other expert advisers should not be construed as medical advice. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your GP as soon as possible. It is important to obtain advice from a GP who is in charge of your clinical care, who knows you well, and who can consider other likely causes for symptoms. Seek personalised medical advice whenever a new symptom arises, or an existing symptom worsens. Don't assume that new or worsened symptoms are a result of having ME/CFS.

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