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Ankle Edema

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Ankle edema is swelling of the ankle and the feet due to accumulation of fluid in the joints and the surrounding tissues. You normally observe this kind of puffiness while sitting and standing in the same posture for a long time or may be due to excessive walking. However, this is not always the reason behind ankle edema. We shall explain you in details here...

Symptoms associated with ankle edema

  • Swelling and puffiness of the feet
  • Soreness and redness of the skin
  • The skin looks stretched and shiny
  • Heaviness in feet
  • The skin may get a dimple on pressing

Health Complications responsible for Ankle Edema

Common causes:

  • Injury in leg and ankle, like sprain, twisting, overstretching and fracture
  • Overweight
  • Side effects of various types of medicines. E.g. anti-depressants, calcium channel blockers, NSAIDs, hormonal pills, diabetes medicines, etc.
  • During pregnancy
  • A natural symptom of aging process

Medical Reasons:

  • Malfunctioning of kidney, heart and liver can inevitably cause water/fluid retention in and around the feet.
  • Blood clots in veins of the legs and feet block normal circulation, which can lead to edema
  • Nerve problems like diabetes neuropathy and other types of infections in the leg
  • Accumulation of lymphatic fluid in tissues – lymphedema
  • Venous insufficiency- failure of veins to transport blood from legs to the heart
  • Preeclampsia- presence of excessive amounts of protein in urine during pregnancy along with high blood pressure.

Diagnosis of Ankle Edema

First your doctor will analyse the symptoms and then come to a probable conclusion about the underlying problem. If he suspects any health abnormality that has caused the edema, then you may have to undergo the following tests:

  • ECG- to check for heart functions
  • Urinalysis tests
  • Chest x ray
  • Blood tests (CBC)

Treatments of Ankle Edema

Medical: In this case, your doctor will first aim at treating your health disorder and subsequently the edema will also disappear. Doctors often prescribe diuretics for the same purpose.

Home care: If the swelling has resulted from those aforementioned common reasons, then you can take care of it at home itself. We give you some tips here:

  • Elevate your legs above your heart while lying on the bed
  • Wear orthopaedic shoes while walking or running
  • Do some mild leg-exercises to improve blood circulation
  • Reduce intake of salts
  • Take cold and warm compress
  • Do not sit or stand for a long time, keep moving

When to see your doctor?

If you observe the edema all of a sudden, then try to follow the home remedies first. The swelling usually goes away. However, if the swelling still persists and you experience other discomforts like redness, soreness, fever, chest pain, urine problems, etc. then see your doctor immediately.

Though edema is very common in pregnant women, they should always consult their gynaecologist to be on the safe side.

What to expect?

Ankle edema goes away with proper treatment. Do not worry too much about the swelling, instead follow the home remedies. If needed take rest for a day or two and then get back to work.

The timeline of healing will definitely depend on the underlying cause and the severity of the symptom.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 11, 2015