- Who Gets It?
What are swollen feet and ankles?
If your ankles and feet are swelling, an underlying medical issue may be causing your symptoms. Swelling is usually a sign that something else is impacting your body. Swelling is not a stand-alone condition requiring treatment.
Swelling is used to describe a number of conditions in which an area of the body increases in size. Most commonly, swelling is a collection of fluid that causes tissue to look puffy. It can be your body’s reaction to some kind of trauma.
When it occurs in the feet and ankles, swelling may also be attributed to poor circulation and blood pooling in your lower extremities.
Symptoms of swollen feet and ankles
If your socks, shoes, and even pants feel tighter than usual, you may have swelling. When you take off your socks, they may leave indentations on your ankles. Usually, you can sit down, prop your feet up and rest to reduce swelling. If your feet and ankles appear smaller again after resting, swelling may be present.
Causes of swollen feet and ankles
Swelling in the feet and ankles is a symptom of many conditions. The most common reasons for swelling include:
- Injury – If you damage your foot or ankle, swelling can be your body’s response to protecting the damaged tissue.
- Infection – Tissue that is inflamed because of a virus or bacteria can create pockets that fill with fluid.
- Inflammation – This is very common after strenuous exercise because of a repeated motion like kicking.
- Insect bites or stings – If a bug bites you, the area may swell as a response to an allergic reaction to the bite.
- Autoimmune diseases – Since these conditions can cause your body to attack healthy tissue, certain areas of your body may swell.
- Medicines – If you’re being treated for another medical condition your medication may influence your blood flow.
- Circulation problems – If you have heart failure, diabetes, or kidney disease, you may also have poor circulation as a symptom.
Who gets swollen feet and ankles?
Anyone’s feet and ankles can swell. If you experience swelling, think about what the possible cause(s) may be. If you have a medical condition or recent injury, swelling is more likely to affect you.
Diagnosis of swollen feet and ankles
A visual examination is sufficient for diagnosing swelling, although it won’t tell you the reason behind it. Your skin where the swelling occurs may appear taut and shiny and that area of your body will be visibly larger than usual.
Your doctor will ask questions about patterns occurring at the time of swelling if there is not an obvious reason. They may apply pressure to the area and to see if it leaves an indentation instead of bouncing back.
Treatments for swollen feet and ankles
Since swelling can be caused by dozens of medications and medical conditions, treatment options are vast. Your treatment will most likely be for the condition that is causing the swelling instead of the swelling itself.
General treatments for swelling include:
- Rest – Walking and putting pressure on your feet can increase swelling. Sit or lie down to prevent further injury.
- Ice – Apply an ice pack for 20 minutes at a time until you see a decrease in swelling.
- Compression – Compression socks or a tight wrap can help reduce and prevent swelling.
- Elevation – Prop your feet up so that they are parallel or above the level of your heart.
- Hydration – This may seem counterintuitive, but drinking more water helps flush out your system and maintain good circulation.
Complications of swollen feet and ankles
Treatments for swelling can take time and patience. Moving around too soon or ignoring your symptoms can cause further injury. Remember, swelling is your body’s response to something else that’s happening. Whether it’s medication, an injury, or a medical condition, your body needs attention. Talk to your doctor about the risks associated with stopping or starting a medication.
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