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The Most Common Causes of Swollen Feet and Ankles

Have you ever come home from a long day at work, pulled your shoes off and put your feet up to look on in shock at how swollen they were? Swollen feet and ankles are incredibly common, and often not much to worry about. If you spend a huge chunk of time standing around, or do a lot of walking during the course of your day this is one of the simple side effects. You should only be concerned if you notice other symptoms that don’t seem to go away. Here is a quick look at some of the most common causes of swollen feet and ankles.

Pregnant women will tell you that swelling in these areas basically comes with the territory. It’s an unpleasant side effect, but with elevation and rest it shouldn’t be too bad. However, problems might arise if the swelling comes on suddenly, or if it seems incredibly excessive for what you’re used to. If the swelling in those areas comes along with headaches, abdominal pain, vision changes or vomiting you should let your doctor know about the situation.

You’ll also see swelling any time you are dealing with an ankle or foot injury. The most common situation is a sprain, which can happen due to something as simple as stepping onto the sidewalk awkwardly. All you need to do in this case is rest the injury. You can also use ice to reduce the swelling, and compress the area with a bandage as well. Elevating it can also help solve the problem.

Arthritis also often causes swollen feet or ankles. At its most basic, arthritis is inflammation of the joints. You could even see it focused within a single joint, which is known as osteoarthritis. If you notice redness and painful swelling in your big toe along with the rest of the swelling, you might be experiencing gout. These are all degenerative situations, so ask your doctor if you notice the swelling persisting. It may end up being some sort of autoimmune disease that will require treatment.

As you age, issues with your veins could also lead to swelling in the ankles or feet. It’s usually due to something called venous insufficiency, which means the veins in your legs have become damaged and aren’t moving blood back to the heart as effectively. You’ll probably notice swelling in other parts of your legs, as well as spider or varicose veins on your ankles or legs. Just keep an eye out for pain that accompanies the swelling, that travels through your lower legs. This could potentially be deep vein thrombosis, which could mean there is a blood clot causing the problems. If that’s the case you should definitely seek medical attention.

Finally, there are certain skin infections that could lead to swelling in those areas. You’ll often notice redness and pain along with the swelling. It could be due to an ingrown toenail that has become infected, a major case of athlete’s foot or from a puncture wound that went untreated. If you think an infection is the problem, consider seeing a foot and ankle podiatrist. It won’t get better on its own in this case.