Water retention and swelling is most commonly found in the ankles and feet when an excess of fluid gathers in the lower part of the body and causes an inflation of the soft tissues, medically referred to as peripheral Oedema. The condition can affect anyone of any age, although women tend to be more susceptible. Although swollen ankles is not always a cause for concern, it can restrict the range of movement in your legs, ankles and feet and leave you feeling distressed, uncomfortable and unable to perform day-to-day actions.
As well as causing a puffiness and swelling around the feet, peripheral Oedema can result in other symptoms such as a discoloration of the skin, pitting (areas that briefly hold the imprint of your finger), aching legs, restricted ankle movement, weight gain and weight loss and in some cases, raised blood pressure.
The condition can be caused by a number of health conditions, including pregnancy, varicose veins, obesity, an infection, or more severe medical problems such as heart disease. Swelling can also be the result of extraneous factors including, excessive strain, physical injury, long periods of immobility or even as a side effect from certain medications.
Inflated skin around the ankles is commonly caused by standing or walking for long periods of time and is usually harmless. However, ankles that remain inflated for a long duration, or excessive swelling accompanied by other symptoms can indicate a serious health problem that may require medical attention.
How to avoid swollen ankles
There are a few simple steps that you can carry out to help prevent the likelihood of developing swollen ankles. Throughout the day, you should try to avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time whilst making sure that you take regular breaks to give your feet a rest. Wearing comfortable shoes can also help stave off any unnecessary swelling, as well as raising your feet a couple of times a day to improve the efficiency of your blood circulation. Maintaining a healthy diet and undertaking regular exercise patterns can also help regulate your blood pressure and reduce the build-up of fatty substances, like Cholesterol, that may increases your risk of contracting Oedema.
Treating swollen ankles
The majority of the time, ankle inflammation will not present a danger to health and will usually subside over time without the need of medical assistance. However, if your condition does not improve naturally, you may be left wondering how to reduce swollen ankles and ease your discomfort.
Self-help remedies for swollen ankles are an easy way to treat your condition on a day-to-day basis. If you are obese, gradually losing excess weight can help take the strain off your feet and ankles, whilst regular exercise such as walking and swimming can enhance your general health and reduce adverse effects of poor circulation.
Performing foot exercises can also promote blood circulation whilst reducing any cramp and swelling. Whilst sitting or standing, you can rotate both ankles in cyclical motions and ensure that your feet remain active throughout the day. If you suffer from mild swelling, you may also benefit from using paracetamol, compression bandages or ice packs to provide you with short-term pain-relief from puffiness.
Elevating your feet above your heart is another medically-approved form of swollen ankles treatment, and can be done by propping cushions under your feet or using a reclining chair to help improve your blood flow and reduce any uncomfortable swelling.
When to see a GP
Although swollen ankles can usually be treated at home, if the condition is severe or fails to improve with self-remedies, you may need to seek medical assistance. Any sudden and unexplained swelling of the ankles, particularly during pregnancy, will need prompt medical attention as it may be linked to a potentially dangerous health condition. Likewise, If your swollen ankles are accompanied by symptoms such as headaches, breathlessness, stomach pains, vision abnormalities or nausea – or if you feel that you are unable to cope with the level of pain – you should make an appointment with your GP immediately.
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Built in to our adjustable beds and chairs is our exclusive NHC Cyclo-Therapy: a vibrating massage system that works to alleviate aches and pains whilst promoting blood circulation. Our massage equipment uses a three-way technique that pulsates and rotates out from the centre to provide an effective swollen ankles and feet treatment within the comfort of your own home.