Swollen feet or ankles is a common complaint. It may affect the legs, calves, and ultimately the thighs. Several factors can cause swollen feet. Here in this blog, we will discuss the causes and some effective treatments to help you with swollen feet.
- Various factors can cause swollen feet or ankles. These include overuse, lymphedema, foot or ankle injury, and pregnancy.
- The treatment for swollen feet depends on the underlying cause.
- Lymphedema occurs due to the presence of lymphatic fluid in the tissues. It usually develops after the removal of lymph nodes.
- Foot infections are more common in people who have diabetic neuropathy or other nerve disorders in their feet.
Swollen Feet or Ankles
Swelling of the feet, legs, and ankles is also commonly known as peripheral edema. It describes the accumulation of fluid in these body parts. Unless there is an injury, this fluid buildup is not painful.
Swelling of the feet or ankles is more common among older people. It can either affect one or both sides of the body. It may sometimes indicate a more serious underlying health issue that needs to be treated right away.
When to Seek Medical Help
Swelling is not a significant health risk. But knowing when to see a doctor is essential. If you have swollen feet and the following accompanying symptoms, seek medical help right away:
- Painful swelling of your feet, ankle, or legs
- Inflammation at the affected area
- Chest pain, pressure, or tightness
- Swelling along with fever
- Foot swelling during a pregnancy
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of only one limb
Causes and Treatments
Edema is a common medical condition caused by fluid retention. It primarily affects the legs, feet, or ankles. But it can also appear in other body parts, such as the face or abdomen. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Stretched skin
- Increased abdominal size
- Reduced mobility
- Coughing or difficulty while breathing.
If edema does not go away on its own, it may have an underlying reason that requires medical attention. A person should immediately consult a doctor to rule out any underlying causes.
Treatment options for edema depend on the severity of the condition. Several home remedies help to alleviate edema symptoms. These include wearing support stockings, reducing salt intake, and lying down while raising the legs above the chest. Some other treatments involve:
- Eat fresh and healthy food.
- Avoid packaged and processed foods that are enriched in salt.
- Start exercising to prevent swelling due to inactivity.
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol.
- Get acupuncture or massage therapy.
- Use grape seed extract. It will lower blood pressure and help relieve edema associated with varicose veins and poor vein function.
2. Consuming Alcohol
The body can retain water from alcohol, which can cause foot swelling. It will usually disappear within a few days. A person should consult their doctor if the swelling remains for more than two days. Persistent swelling of the feet following alcohol consumption could indicate an underlying problem with the heart, liver, or kidneys.
Several treatment options help to reduce the swelling of the foot or ankle. These may include:
- Elevate your feet above the heart
- Drink lots of water
- Decrease salt intake
- Soaking the feet in cold water
3. Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a common medical condition. It develops due to improper blood flow in the body. It also happens due to damaged valves or from sitting in the same position for prolonged periods. As a result, fluid retention will occur in the lower legs, particularly around the feet and ankles. It will lead to swollen feet and ankles. In CVI, you may experience:
- Aching or tiredness in the legs
- New varicose veins
- Skin ulcers
- Infections, and itchy skin on the legs or feet.
A person suffering from CVI’s symptoms should seek immediate medical care for accurate diagnosis and treatment. To treat venous insufficiency, your healthcare provider may suggest lifestyle changes. Exercise plays a significant role in maintaining the blood circulation of the body. Doctors recommend medication and compression stockings to prevent blood clots. In some cases, doctors may recommend surgery to repair damaged valves.
Some other treatments recommended by the doctor are as follow:
- Walking and exercising regularly
- Lose excess weight
- Elevate your legs above heart level while resting
- Wear compression stockings
- Take antibiotics for treating skin infections
- Practicing good skin hygiene
4. Foot or Ankle Injury
Swelling in the feet occurs due to foot or ankle injuries. These injuries involve broken bones, strains, and sprains. Swelling occurs due to the development of blood clots in the affected area.
Foot injuries are often treated with the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) approach. After carefully analyzing the severity of your foot injury, Your doctor may recommend:
- Over-the-counter pain relief medications
- Wearing a brace or splint
- A compression bandage or ice pack
If your condition gets worse, you may need to have ankle and foot surgery. Get immediate medical care if you have numbness.
The lymphatic system’s primary task is to eliminate unwanted substances, such as bacteria and toxins. Lymphedema is more common in those who have had lymph nodes or radiation treatment. Patients who undergo cancer treatment and experience swelling should contact their healthcare provider.
Other symptoms may include:
- Recurrent infections
- Impaired motion
- Aching and skin thickening
Doctors recommend wearing bandages or compression garments to treat lymphedema. Regular exercising and massage therapy may also be beneficial. Other effective treatments include pneumatic compression and complete decongestive therapy. Severe lymphedema may require surgery.