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Why Do Your Feet and Ankles Swell?

Having swollen feet and ankles is a common problem, especially at this time of year when temperatures are climbing. The swelling is caused by an accumulation of fluid: you might hear your podiatrist refer to this problem by its medical name, oedema. You develop oedema if fluid leaks from tiny blood vessels called capillaries into the surrounding tissue. Your feet and ankles are particularly prone to swelling due to the effect of gravity – it’s difficult for your circulatory system to carry the build-up of fluid away from these areas.

When your feet and ankles are puffy, the skin may look overstretched and shiny. The swelling makes you feel uncomfortable and stiff, so it’s more challenging than usual to be active. Your normal shoes and hosiery could well get too tight, in which case wearing them may lead to blisters and sores.

Swollen Feet and Ankles – Common Causes

Tips for Reducing the Swelling at Home

There are various ways you can try to relieve swollen feet and ankles. The aim is to boost your circulation and encourage blood vessels to reabsorb the fluid and carry it away.

Expert Help for Foot and Ankle Swelling

At-home remedies can help you to manage foot and ankle swelling, but if the problem lasts more than a few days or you find it very frustrating, do see our podiatry team for a professional examination, advice and treatment. We can also help you to decide if compression socks (which can prevent further episodes of swelling) are right for you.

It may be the case that the swelling is a sign of an underlying health problem; for example, an injury, infection, blood vessel damage or Charcot foot. So it’s important that you get professional help.

There’s a small chance that foot and ankle swelling points to a life-threatening condition such as a blood clot. If the swelling is sudden and severe, is accompanied by other symptoms such as pain or affects only one side of the body, seek emergency medical assistance.

But please keep in mind that such emergencies are relatively rare and oedema can usually be managed at home and with help from your podiatrist.

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