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Kamil asked...

Swelling in my ankle

Hello, when I walk too much I have a big swelling in my left ankle. I stayed at home for a long time. I also get back problems. How can I cure this?

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The answer

Your question Kamil, is rather vague and you do not tell us whether you have sustained an injury to your foot or have any other health concerns. We will try to cover some of the reasons why your ankle could be swelling and despite rest not easing. We would at this point however suggest that you visit your GP if this continues for a medical opinion as to potential causes.

There are many reasons that your ankle can be swelling particularly after a long day on your feet. A build up of fluid is often known as oedema. The most common causes include the following:

  • Ankle or foot injury- An injury to your foot or ankle can cause the ligaments to become overstretched, bruised and swollen and this can lead to a build up of fluid which can take some weeks to subside and return to the normal size. Swelling of this nature can be reduced by elevating the foot, resting the limb and applying ice packs to the area to further reduce swelling. A compression bandage may also help. If the swelling does not ease and weight bearing on your foot is painful then it may be worth having a medical assessment to ascertain what type of injury has been sustained.
  • Infection- Swelling can occur where there is an infection present- usually as a result of a cut or bite. People with diabetes are prone to infections as a result of the nerves being affected and the pain sensation usually felt when injury, bites or cuts being diminished and allowing infection to set in because of slow diagnosis of the cut, bite or wound. An infection may need to be treated by means of antibiotics.
  • Poor circulation of the lymphatic system- The lymphatic system helps clear the body of substances that can cause infection and if there is a blockage to the area or lymph nodes have been removed then this can cause fluid to pool and not be drained away. Lymphoedema (build up of the lymphatic fluid) tends to be more noticeable in the arms, legs and feet. This can sometimes be eased by means of exercises to improve circulation.
  • Poor circulation of the venous system- Swelling can occur as a result of the blood not being able to circulate around the body freely such as when varicose veins are present. If the blood is restricted in any way then it is possible for pooling of the blood to occur and this is generally seen in the ankle and foot areas. In severe cases it may be necessary for varicose veins to be removed or diseased valves to be treated.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (Blood Clot)- It is possible that a clot may have developed in the vein in the calf and swelling usually occurs as a result of the body having to try to circulate the blood around the limb in different ways. A blood clot usually presents with swelling, redness to the calf and pain on movement. Risks of blood clots are increased if there is a history of prolonged immobility, infection, smoking, dehydration and due to some medications. Blood thinning treatment may help in this situation.
  • Medication- some medications can affect the way the kidneys function and this can lead to a build up of fluid too. If this is the case medication prescribed will need to be reviewed.
  • Health Issues Affecting the Heart and Kidneys- Fluid retention can occur if the kidneys or heart are not functioning effectively. Tests will need to be done in order to exclude medical problems such as diabetes and heart or kidney concerns.

As mentioned the swelling in your ankle could be for a variety of reasons so we would suggest that you visit your GP for an assessment to see what is possibly causing this for you.

Investigations that may need to be carried out to ascertain causative factor may include in blood tests, scans and x-rays.

Treatment such as medications, exercise, losing weight and physiotherapy may also need to be considered.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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