Leg Vein Health

21 June 2016

13 reasons why your ankles are swollen

Are your feet or ankles feeling swollen, heavy and bloated? Here are some causes to look out for.

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If your shoes and socks won’t fit because of ballooning feet or ankles, consider these potential causes. You might especially notice the foot or ankle swelling at the end of a long day, or if you’ve been sitting for hours at your desk or gaming.

Go through this list for some idea of what’s behind the problem.

1.    Foot injury – Some swelling is to be expected if you twist or sprain your ankle or break a bone in your leg or foot. This will reduce naturally as you heal. The recommendation your physio will probably give for a sprain is rest, ice, compression and elevation.

2.    Insect bites or stings – If you’re allergic to insect bites or get bitten by a swarm of mosquitoes or fleas, the area may be not only itchy, but also swollen.

3.    Burn wounds – Spilling boiling water on your legs or even too much time in the sun can cause a painful burn which may be accompanied by some swelling. If there are blisters or the skin is very red and sore, get medical attention.

4.    Tight clothing – Very tight-fitting skinny jeans and other clingy clothes can put too much pressure on your muscles and prevent normal circulation.

5.    Infection – Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that often affects the lower legs. It can be serious if left untreated, so if the swollen skin is red and painful or you have symptoms such as fever or muscle aches, get to a doctor.

Read: Cellulitis

6.    Arthritis, including gout – Joint swelling is a common symptom experienced by arthritis sufferers, and anyone who has gout in their feet knows the throb of a painfully swollen toe.

Read: Arthritis

7.    Deep vein thrombosis – this is a commonly known side effect of sitting for long periods, for example during long flights. If you have swelling or pain after a long period of inactivity, get it checked out.

8.    Varicose veins – Blood vessels that are dilated and visible can cause symptoms such as pain, swelling and itchiness.

Read: Leg vein health

9.    Pregnancy – With a big bump creating pressure in the abdomen, there can be swelling in the legs. Bear in mind if this is sudden or extreme it could be a sign of a problem, so check with your doctor that all is well.

10.  Obesity – Carrying a lot of extra weight can put pressure on your legs, ankles and feet and contribute to swelling.

11.  Underactive thyroid – Hypothyroidism is associated with fluid retention in the limbs and even the face.

12.  Heart, liver or kidney failure – When the heart can’t pump blood properly, fluid can pool in the lower legs, calling swelling. Likewise, failure of liver or kidney function could cause fluid retention.

13.  Medication, especially for chronic conditions, may cause swollen ankles. Examples may include some medications for high blood pressure, depression and contraceptives.

Read more:

Swelling of ankles and feet

Pine bark extract cuts oedema

Why your ankles are swollen

 

Ask the Expert

Leg vein expert

Dr. Riaz Motara is a specialist physician and cardiologist. He has an interest in preventative cardiology. He runs Veinsculpt, the first and only comprehensive vein clinic in South Africa, using endo-venous laser ablation as the treatment of choice.He also operates the only Women's Heart Clinic in South Africa.

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