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Ankle swelling

A sign of fluid buildup or inflammation of joint and tissue, ankle swelling is also called ankle edema. It can also result from serious infections, trauma or circulatory disorders, cardiac disorders or any other abnormal processes. Mild ankle swelling is common after standing for a long period of time. Painless swelling of the ankles is a common problem among older people. Swollen ankles may indicate potentially serious disorders such as congestive heart failure, deep vein thrombosis and liver failure. Ankle swelling could also occur during pregnancy, being overweight or vascular problems or some orthopedic conditions such as bone fracture or a sprained ankle.

Swelling can also be caused by injury involving surgery in ankle. Long car rides and flight travel can lead to ankle edema. Many women notice ankle edema during pregnancy. It is complicated by Preeclampsia, a serious condition that includes high blood pressure and swelling. Certain medications, like antidepressants, calcium channel blockers, and hormones like estrogen and testosterone and steroids can cause swelling. Ankle swelling is common in those who are overweight, suffer blood clots in the leg or those who suffer leg infections.

Swollen legs are also often a sign of failure of heart, kidney and liver. This is an indication of too much fluid in the body. Gout is caused by accumulation of uric acid crystals within the fluid of the ankle. Those suffering from gout exhibit abnormal accumulation of uric acid within joints leading to inflammation and resultant swelling. Ankle arthritis is another degenerative change is the joint, though less common, which can be quite painful and could cause swelling. Blood clot, known as DVT, is a common vascular obstruction of blood flow which can cause swelling around the ankles and can also extend further up to the legs.

Since swollen ankles could be due to serious diseases and injuries, seek treatment without delay. Treatment depends upon the analysis of the underlying disease condition and its diagnosis.

  • Keep ankle lifted so that the leg falls on a straight line. An ice pack or ice in a plastic bag can be wrapped in a clean dish bowl and kept on the raised ankle.
  • Reduce intake of salt.
  • Cut down on processed food especially fast foods that overflow with salt.
  • To soothe tendinitis, sprains, strains and aches, alternate hot and cold vinegar wraps can do good.
  • Drink plenty of water as it moves through kidneys, bladder, diluting the urine and since urine has some fluid-retaining salt in it, the more it is diluted, the easier it is to remove salt and prevent edema.
  • Exercise such as as walking or swimming regularly helps.
  • Support stockings which are sold at most drug and medical supply stores can be worn.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing or garters around thighs.
  • Lose weight if need to.


The conjunctiva is the thin, transparent tissue that lines the eyelids and surface of the eye. The swelling of conjunctiva is termed as chemosis. The swelling is due to accumulation of fluid. Due to the swelling, the eyes cannot close properly and affects visual acuity. Chemosis is alternatively referred to as fluid-filled conjunctiva, swollen eye or conjunctiva.

The most common symptom associated with chemosis is swelling of the eye and the eye appearing red in color. In most of the cases, chemosis is caused by an allergic reaction, viral infection as well as by rubbing of the eye. Exophthalmos, a sign of hyperthyroidism, which results in abnormal bulging of one or both eyes, may also be associated with Chemosis.

Treatment of chemosis depends on its cause. Home care treatment options of chemosis due to angioedema or allergies includes using over-the-counter antihistmine medications and placing cool clothes on the eyes. It is best to contact health care provider in case the symptoms continue. The health care provider may diagnose by conducting a physical examination of the eye. Certain questions to understand the history of swelling of the eye and discomfort it causes will be asked. The health care provider will then prescribe an eye cream to reduce the swelling and antibiotics medications.


Lymphatic system is a major part of the circulatory and immune system that transports lymph fluid from tissues to the blood stream. Lymph fluid contains white blood cells that protect the body against infections and help the body detoxify. When lymph fluid is not drained properly and starts to build and cause swelling, it is called Lymphedema. Any part of the body can be affected by Lymphedema, but it usually occurs in the arms, legs and very rarely it can occur on the neck, head, groin and genital areas.

Primary Lymphedema is congenital and is caused by the defective lymphatic system present during the birth. Sometimes primary Lymphedema, though present during the birth, may surface only after puberty.

Secondary Lymphedema is an acquired lymphedema due to infection, trauma, injury or cancer that has disturbed the lymphatic system. Apart from such conditions, radiation therapy and surgery involving lymph nodes also results in malfunction of lymphatic system giving rise to Lymphedema. Women who are treated for breast cancer are at high risk for Lymphedema. Breast cancer surgery normally involves removal of one or two lymph nodes and thus disturbs the pathway of the lymphatic system. Hence breast cancer patients should be watchful of any swelling under arms or around the breast region after the surgery.

Symptoms of Lymphedema

1. Pain and heaviness in the arms, legs, chest and breast.
2. Swelling in the arms and legs including fingers and toes.
3. Hardening and redness on the skin of the affected limbs.
4. Tingling sensation or pins and needles feeling in the arms and legs.
5. Sore feeling in elbow.
6. Trouble in wearing jackets, watches, bracelets and rings.
7. Difficulty in moving the limbs.
8. Discolored skin associated with rash.
9. Skin indentation after pressing the affected region.
10. Fever

Diagnosing Lymphedema

Doctor evaluates the patient through clinical examination and also checks family and medical history of the patient. He will also look for risk factors such as history of a cancer or a surgery. Doctor may also look for pitting by gently applying the pressure on the swelling. If skin indentation occurs, it needs to be examined further. Certain imaging tests like CT scan, MRI, Lymphoscintigraphy and ultrasonography may be carried on to confirm Lymphedema.

Lymphedema treatment

Treatment for Lymphedema depends upon the extent of progression and severity of the disease. However, the following methods are broadly followed to treat Lymphedema:

Manual lymph drainage: Manual lymph drainage is a massage technique that allows the flow of lymph from affected limb. This technique helps to heal the diseased portion, restore the health of the skin and also treat the infection.

Wrapping/Bandaging: Wrapping the arm or leg with layered bandage is the most effective way of treating Lymphedema. Lymph vessels lie below the skin and take the help of the muscles to drain the lymph. The bandage wrapped around the limb provides good support to the muscles and thus fluid is pumped out easily. Bandages should be wrapped tightly around the fingers and toes and loosened as you go up the arm.

Compression garments: Compression garments are specially designed garments and they work much the way as wraps do. These garments reduce the swelling and also prevent it from recurring. They help the muscles in pushing the lymph into lymph vessels by providing firm support. Compression garments should be picked up under professional guidance with utmost care as the proper fit is essential in treating the Lymphedema. Once purchased, they should be worn regularly and all day long for speedy results.

Exercise: Certain decongestive exercises increase the lymph flow and allow it to flow back into the blood stream. Exercise sets in the movement in muscles and thereby helps in draining the lymph fluid easily. The rate of lymph flow is 15 times higher during exercise when compared to the resting period. Thus, swelling eases faster with specified exercise regimen. Always take the help of the Lymphedema therapist before starting the exercises as not all types of exercises are suitable for Lymphedema patients.

Pneumatic compression: This is a new compression device that works towards reducing swelling rapidly. It is a plastic garment with electrical pumping unit which inflates with pumped air and thus applies pressure on the muscles. These muscles in turn work on the lymphatic flow and thus reduce the swelling.

Drugs: If the affected area is infected, doctor may prescribe antibiotics to control the infection. Painkillers are also administered to relieve the patient from pain.

Tags: #Ankle swelling #Chemosis #Lymphedema
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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: April 19, 2024