Swollen Ankle

By Ehren Allen, Certified Manual Therapist/Physical Therapist

Swollen Ankle

By: Ehren Allen, PT, COMT

How do you treat swollen feet and ankles?

JOI Swollen Foot

Image of ankle

Treating a swollen ankle or foot is dependent on the cause of the swelling. It could possibly require a physician to help determine the cause. There are several medical conditions which may lead to increased swelling in the ankles. Some of these include:

Venous insufficiency – occurs when the blood does not travel back out of the ankle and foot due to problems with the veins
Sprained ankle or foot – sprained ligament can cause swelling and pain in the ankle and foot
Fractures – fracture in the foot causes a flood of blood and fluid to the area which can accumulate in the ankle and foot
Lymphedema – the lymphatic system is damaged or altered due to surgery or cancer

  • the drainage of fluids and waist from the ankle and foot may be compromised and cause increased swelling in the ankle and foot

In most cases, ankle swelling can be treated by elevation and possibly compression stockings. Exercises such as ankle pumps (flexing and extending the foot) can help to push swelling out of the ankles. In relation to fractures, casting or immobilization could be needed to ensure proper healing. Generally, the swelling improves as healing occurs. Lymphedema is a complicated issue which may require a combination of compression and manual lymph drainage. Treatment is commonly done by a physical or occupational therapist with specific training in lymphedema.

Can swollen ankles be serious?

If there is proper treatment, swollen ankles typically improve. If left untreated, they can lead to dangerous medical conditions. In addition, if you have venous insufficiency, the blood may remain in the veins for an extended period which may allow it to clot. Venous insufficiency can produce a life threatening condition in which the clot may travel to heart or lungs. Swelling due to diabetic conditions may lead to more complicated issues if there is a loss of sensation in the foot or ankle. The risk of infection is higher as healing occurs slower when patients have diabetes.

What causes water retention in ankles?

Water retention in the ankles may be due to any of the conditions listed above and may be treated with compression, elevation, and exercises. Medical management may be required as well. In patients with congestive heart failure (CHF), the heart does not function at its full capacity and may be unable to facilitate proper return of blood to the heart. CHF may lead to increased swelling in the legs and ankles. Water pills (diuretics) may be prescribed to assist with removing the excess fluids from the ankles and legs.

How do you get rid of swollen feet and ankles?

Here are some steps to take if you want to get rid of swollen ankles and feet.

Determine the cause – you may need to see a physician for medical management
Elevation of the legs
Compression stockings
Movement exercises
Limit Salt intake
Maintain a healthy body weight or BMI

If your ankle swelling is due to an injury such as a sprain or a fracture, the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute can help. We have a large team of expert doctors and therapists to help you recover and get you back the things you love to do. Come see us!

Interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy? Go to: JOIonline.net or call 904-858-7045

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