Swollen feet and/or ankles are not always accompanied by pain. This is one of the reasons why most individuals don’t take it seriously and, for the most part, there is no reason to worry or be alarmed. Feet and ankle swelling is a common symptom for quite a few causes that are easily treatable and rarely a result of a serious underlying issue. Nevertheless, unless you know what the cause of your swollen feet/ankles is, you shouldn’t rule out the seriousness of it.
More often than not, swollen feet and ankles are easy to self-diagnose because the cause is fairly evident. Still, it pays to have a better understanding of why your feet or ankles are swelling up, and what type of treatment to expect to cure your condition. For that, MSK Therapy has put together some crucial information on common causes of swollen feet/ankles that range from mild to serious, along with their respective treatment. Read on!
Sustained Foot/Ankle Injury
Even minor injuries to the foot or ankle can cause inflammation around that region. Dislocation of the ankle is a common cause, as is a sprained ankle. Basically, anything that causes the ligament to stretch extra can result in inflammation. Other injuries such as fractures (including hairline fractures) in the foot can cause swelling to the area.
For dislocated ankles and sprains, the best cure is to rest the injured foot until the swelling subsides. Other at-home treatments include applying ice to the inflamed region, using elastic crepe tape to wrap the ankle and foot to minimise movement, and keeping it elevated when sitting or lying down.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
When blood starts to accumulate in your leg veins, that is a clear sign of a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency. The pooling of blood in the veins is caused by non-working or damaged valves in the leg veins which restrict the flow of blood circulating to and fro the feet and heart.
One of the symptoms of this condition is swelling of the feet and ankles, as well as infections, skin ulcers, and skin alterations. It’s important to consult your doctor or a vascular specialist if you have symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency. Some of the common treatments to cure the disease include resting and minimal movement to improve the blood flow, keeping the leg elevated, going on a fat loss diet (if overweight), and wearing a compression bandage. In case of a skin infection, your doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics.
Swollen feet and ankles are very common during or after the second trimester due to the extra weight borne by the woman. This usually happens gradually whereas a condition known as ‘preeclampsia’ may cause excessive and/or sudden inflammation around the feet and ankles. Generally, preeclampsia, which causes protein in the urine and a significant rise in blood pressure, is experienced approximately mid-way through the second trimester and can be dangerous to the health of the pregnant woman and foetus.
Other symptoms of preeclampsia include vomiting, nausea, pain in the abdomen, and headaches. Depending on the severity of the condition, a doctor will determine whether medication to lower the woman’s blood pressure and speed up the development of the baby’s lungs is safe, or if the baby should be delivered early to prevent the progression of preeclampsia.
Clotting of the Blood in Leg Veins
There are two relatively common causes of blood clots in the leg – deep vein thrombosis (clots occurring deep within the body), and superficial thrombophlebitis which is essentially clots present in veins close to the skin. The latter is usually not a cause for concern and can be treated with heat application, leg elevation, and anti-inflammatory medication.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a potentially life-threatening disease because the blood clots can travel and get lodged between arteries and/or make their way to the lungs. Patients with DVT are typically advised to take blood thinners in either tablet form or intravenously. Blood clots in the leg veins can cause feet and ankles to swell, among other symptoms including fever, pain in the leg, and discolouration of the leg.
A patient with a foot infection can experience symptoms that include swollen feet/ankles and fever. Foot infections are quite common among patients who have developed nerve-related problems, particularly diabetic neuropathy. This condition numbs the pain that sometimes comes with a foot infection; therefore, it is important to go for a checkup if your feet or ankles start to swell up for no apparent reason.
Foot sores and blisters can also lead to infections which result in swollen feet and ankles. Depending on the type of foot infection you have, doctors will typically advise anti-fungal creams, powders, oral medication, and other treatments that must be performed in a clinic.
If a patient finds that his/her ankles are swelling up later in the second half of the day, it’s possible that he/she may be suffering from partial heart failure. Under such circumstances, it is critically important to visit a doctor immediately.
Among other effects, liver and kidney disease can also lead to swollen feet and ankles due to fluid buildup. This fluid travels down and accumulates in the feet, causing inflammation and discomfort. Other symptoms of liver disease include shortness of breath, loss of appetite, pain in the chest, and tiredness. Heart/kidney/liver disease must be treated by a medical specialist as soon as possible. Therefore, individuals who experience related symptoms should see a doctor urgently.
For foot and ankle-related problems that require chiropractic treatment and/or physical therapy, MSK Therapy offers a wide range of customised treatment programs as per the patient’s diagnosis. We vow to provide specialised examinations and safe methods performed by highly trained and experienced medical professionals to relieve patients of their symptoms while simultaneously undergoing treatment to cure the underlying cause of the problem.