SWOLLEN FEET OR ANKLES

Swollen ankles and swollen feet are common and usually not cause for concern, particularly if you have been standing or walking a lot. But feet and ankles that stay swollen or are accompanied by other symptoms could signal a serious health problem.

Swelling symptoms depend on the underlying cause so symptoms may range from a painless increase in foot and ankle diameter (size) to skin changes of color, and texture changes that may be localized to one or both or ankles. Other symptoms may include warm skin and ulceration with pus drainage.

DIAGNOSIS

Swollen feet and ankles are diagnosed through clinical observation and examination. Your doctor will likely ask questions about the swelling to obtain specific information and gain insight into the underlying cause of the swelling; once the cause is determined, treatments can be designed to help the patient. Simple observation and a patient’s verbal description of the swollen area may be enough to presumptively diagnose the cause. For example:

  • A swollen ankle that the patient “twisted” a day ago is probably due a sprain;
  • A swollen foot that is warm with reddish skin in a person with diabetes, with a small cut on the foot is likely caused by an infection;
  • Swelling on both feet and ankles of a patient with heart disease who did not take the prescribed diuretics is probably caused by a combination of dependent edema, poor fluid management and decreased cardiac function.
  • Laboratory tests are usually not used to diagnose feet and ankle swelling; however, they may be needed in some patients to help diagnose underlying causes of the swelling. X-rays may be used to determine underlying fractures while CT or MRI scans may reveal the extent of tissue damage.

 

TREATMENT

The treatment for swollen feet and ankles depends on the underlying cause(s). For many people, simply raising their feet above their heart or simply getting off their feet regularly during the day will reduce or eliminate the swelling. However, for many other people, treatment of the underlying cause of the swelling may include antibiotics for infections, a splint or wrap for a sprain, taking appropriate medications for congestive heart failure (CHF) or gout.

Related Articles

WHITMORE’S DISEASE

Overview and FactsTypes and SymptomsDiagnosis & MedicationsOverview and Facts Whitmore's disease, also known as Melioidosis, is a rare bacterial infection [...]

VANCOMYCIN-INTERMEDIATE/RESISTANT STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS INFECTIONS

Overview and FactsTypes and SymptomsDiagnosis & MedicationsOverview and Facts Vancomycin-Intermediate/Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus infections (VISA/VRSA) are strains of Staphylococcus aureus that [...]

VIBRIO CHOLERAE INFECTION

Overview and FactsTypes and SymptomsDiagnosis & MedicationsOverview and Facts Vibrio cholerae infection is a severe diarrheal illness caused by consuming [...]