What’s all that swelling about?

By: Health Local Staff Apr 29, 2013
  Article
Ankle swelling

Swelling of the legs and feet are a common problem among both men and women.

When it comes to swelling, typically there is no reason for concern as most swelling subsides within hours or days of onset. However, in the case of ankles or legs that stay swollen for long periods of time, something more serious may be going on.

There are a wide number of reasons that swelling of the legs and feet could be occurring. Below are a few of the most common reasons why swelling may be found in the extremities.

A Foot or Ankle Injury
If you have recently sprained your foot or ankle, swelling most likely will develop. A misstep or fall can contribute to an ankle sprain, leaving you with pain and swelling at the site of the injury. It is important to apply home care right away by placing an ice pack on the injured area and applying compression as soon as possible to keep the swelling down. If the swelling and other symptoms continue for more than 48 hours, see your doctor for an assessment.

Pregnancy Related Issues
While some swelling of the ankles and feet is common in pregnant women, excessive swelling may indicate a more serious problem. Serious swelling of the feet, ankles and legs in pregnant women may be a sign of a condition known as preeclampsia. Often occurring after the 20th week of pregnancy, this condition is caused by high blood pressure and protein found in the urine. A screening test may be required at this stage of pregnancy, especially if you are experiencing telltale signs of the problem.

Signs of Lymphedema
Lymphedema is a condition in which there is a large collection of fluid in the tissues because of the absence of the lymph vessels operating properly. Lymph buildup of fluid can impair healing properties and create wounds on the surface of the skin. Lymph fluid may actually ooze out of the wounds and cause your legs to seep. The wounds can become infected and cause serious problems with the overall health of the body. If the condition is left untreated, infection and deformity of the limbs may occur. This condition can be caused by recent cancer treatment and should be looked into further by a medical professional if suspected.

Inadequate Veins
An early sign of venous insufficiency is swelling of the feet, ankles and lower extremities. This condition occurs as a result of impaired circulation or blood flow. Inadequate movement of blood from the feet or ankles to the heart can lead to serious swelling, along with other problems. Chronic issues associated with this condition can cause skin ulcers, open wounds, and serious infection if not cared for by a doctor. If you suspect inadequate circulation and notice that the swelling is not subsiding, seek medical attention right away for a proper assessment. 

The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.