Edema is the common term for swelling in any part of the body which is accompanied with the fluid retention in the body tissues. This term is connoted for the painless swelling which may be either physiological or pathological. Oedema is another common term used in place of edema in some countries.
Particularly there are two types of edema which are:
- Pitting edema
- Non-pitting edema
There is an easy method to find out whether a person has pitting or non-pitting edema. Press your thumb on the swollen area and hold it for 10 seconds. If a pit forms there then this is called the pitting edema.
If nothing forms and the skin come up as you remove your finger then it is called as the non-pitting edema. Generally edema or swelling occurs in the legs and particularly it affects the ankle region.
Causes of Ankle Edema:
Edema can be seen around the brain, around the eyes, arms, hands, legs, etc. However foot and ankle edema is much more common.
Ankle edema swelling is often seen among people who are not much active or due to lack of physical activity. People who do not exercise or walk may generally suffer from this problem. If you travel for a long journey (lets say more than 4 hours), then due to the positional variance and regular sitting in one position you may develop the foot and ankle edema. This is the physiologic cause.
Let us also see about some of the pathological causes below
1- Renal disease: This is one of the main reasons for the development of edema on ankle. This occurs because of the failure in the fluid retention, filtration and elimination mechanism which leads to the excessive fluid retention in the body. In 70% of the cases with edema due to the renal factor there would be an associated cardiac factor also.
2- Cardiac disease: When there is an extra workload on the heart, the pumping mechanism slows down. This would lead to the increased pressure in the small blood vessels. When the pressure in the small blood vessels and capillaries increase it would lead to the leakage of the fluid from the vessels. This would in turn lead to the excess body fluid volume. Due to the gravitational force the fluid tends to get accumulated in the ankles and can cause swelling of feet or ankle edema.
Above are the main reasons for the ankle edema. Besides these some of the other ankle edema causes are:
- Thyroid problems,
- Menstruation and pre-menstruation,
- Usage of contraceptive pills,
- Organ failure,
- Varicose veins
- Recent surgeries in the pelvic region,
- Blockage in the lymphatic system,
- Intake of certain medications like steroids, NSAIDs, etc.
It should be noted that in some pathological conditions the swelling may occur in only one leg which should be properly diagnosed and treated.
Symptoms of Ankle Edema
Ankle and foot edema symptoms may vary and generally depend on the underlying causes. Few of the most common symptoms of ankle edema includes:
- Swelling in the affected area
- Shiny, whitey and stretched skin
- Retaining of the skin dimple after the pressing for about 10 seconds
- Aching parts of the body and stiffness
- Puffiness around the ankle
- Weight gain or loss
- Increase in blood pressure or pulse rate
Ankle Edema Treatment
What can be done at your home to treat your foot swelling?
It is not at all necessary to take medicines for treating ankle edema pain as some simple measures and treatments can be taken at home to get fruitful results. They are:
Keep your legs elevated: The first and foremost thing would be to keep the legs elevated whenever you sit down for any work. While sleeping, a pillow or a leg rest can be kept below the legs to keep your feet elevated. This would assist the blood flow towards the heart against the gravity and will help in easing feet swelling.
Foot bath with salt: Take a bucket (filled half level) with warm water. Now take two tablespoons of common salt and mix it with it. Wash your legs thoroughly and then immerse your legs in this hot water bucket. The temperature of the water should be checked by the hands so that it is tolerable. Now keep your legs for 10 minutes and remove it. This will help relieve the ankle edema problem fast.
Loweing the consumption of salt, regular exercising for over weight patients, wearing the best stockings and socks for ankle edema, massaging the affected areas, etc are also few of the best remedies which helps in treating the problem of feet swelling or ankle edema.
Other than the above home remedies for mild ankle edema there are some particular treatment options which can be used by your doctor after examining the causes of ankle edema. These treatment for ankle edema options include:
Diuresis: Taking diuretics is often recommended by the doctor for treating the ankle edema problem. These are the special types of drugs which enhances the production of urine in kidney thus helping in the excretion of excess water or fluid from the body in different ways. Care has to be taken that these drugs are not meant for pregnant patients or patients suffering from chronic venous insufficiency.
Besides the above your doctor may also recommend therapies such as Antiangiogenesis therapy, Oxygen therapy and Lucentis for treating the problem.