Well, I have to say – when summer eventually arrived it packed a punch! The wall to wall warmth and sunshine we’ve been having for the last few weeks has been glorious! Personally, I adore the hot weather – it never really gets too hot for me. But there are some who dread the hot, summer months because it means inflammation, redness and painfully swollen ankles – or edema. At this time of year, our podiatrists at Healthy Steps Podiatry treat a lot of patients who come in looking for solutions to reduce swelling in the ankles. So I thought I’d share some of the general advice we give them.
What Causes Swollen Ankles?
If your socks or shoe straps are leaving marks on your skin, then chances are you have swollen ankles; and if you’re not pregnant and you haven’t recently injured yourself, then your swelling may be as a result of one or more of the following:
- Too Much Salt – When your body has too much sodium and not enough water, your body will retains any water you drink – which will cause swelling in the ankles.
- Heat – Excess body heat can cause the blood vessels to expand, allowing fluids to flow into the surrounding tissues.
- Gravity – Too much standing or sitting can cause the fluids in your body to pool in the lower extremities.
- Organ Failure – Problems with the heart, kidneys or liver can cause circulation issues, resulting in ankle swelling.
- Medications – Certain medications, such as antidepressants (MAO inhibitors & tricyclics), calcium channel blocker blood pressure pills, estrogen-containing hormone birth control pills, testosterone and steroids can all contribute to swollen ankles
- Obesity – If you are overweight, you are more likely to get swollen ankles.
What to Do about Swollen Ankles?
Raising your legs above heart level is the first step for treating swollen ankles. Sitting back and elevating your feet for about an hour should be enough to reduce benign episodes of summer swelling. Even elevating your feet on a stool will help. If you can’t kick back and relax, try wearing support or compression socks moving around, or massaging your ankles to increase circulation.
Here are some other tips we give our patients:
- Drink more water! You should be drinking at least eight glasses a day.
- Limit dietary sodium like table salt, salted peanuts, pretzels, chips, breakfast cereals, and other salty foods.
- Avoid really long walks in the heat. Choose to exercise during the cooler parts of the day.
- Massage the feet and ankles to promote lymphatic drainage. Use a cooling cream for added relief.
- Try a cooling ankle brace, ankle coldpack or ankle wrap.
- Flex and bend your ankles in circular motions to get your blood moving.
- Cool your ankles down by placing a wet towel over them.
- If you stand all day at work, take “walking breaks” during the day to ease the pressure and discomfort.
What can Healthy Steps Do To Help You With Your Swollen Ankles?
Our podiatrists at Healthy Steps Podiatry will help you identify the root cause of your ankle swelling, particularly if it’s a chronic condition. They will want to rule out issues, such as blood clots, heart failure and Achilles Tendinitis. There are also medications that can reduce swelling and inflammation. They can also assess your bio-mechanics to see if the way you’ve been standing or walking is contributing to the problem. If you are worried about your swollen ankles, make an appointment with Healthy Steps and one of our podiatrists in Auckland can examine your feet and prescribe the best course of action. And we don’t just treat swollen ankles – from the simplest toenail problem to the most complex of foot deformities, we provide exceptional care and health solutions for your feet.