What is causing my swollen feet and ankles?
Most likely: water retention.
As we get older, healthy function in the autonomic nervous system and lymphatic system can decrease. The autonomic nervous system controls things like body temperature, blood pressure, blood circulation etc. The lymphatic system is responsible for clearing micro waste products, and is an essential part of the immune system. If either system isn’t working at optimum level, the blood vessels in your legs may allow excess fluid (water, lymph) to “pool” in your legs and sometimes in your hands, especially in hot weather, or after prolonged sitting.
It is common to get swollen ankles after a plane journey too, due to the combination of sitting and altered pressure in the aeroplane. But if they stay swollen, it is often the autonomic nervous system or the lymphatic system to blame.
Swollen, usually painless ankles and feet, with shoes feeling tighter, and/or swollen, usually painless fingers and your rings feel too tight.
In hot weather, alteration in salt levels in your system due to sweating makes the problem worse.
Self-help: wear flight socks for flights and move around the plane. Sit with your feet up whenever possible. “Paddle” your feet up and down whenever you are sitting to help the leg muscles to push the fluid up your legs. Flap your hands up and down if your fingers are affected, or regularly grip and release your hands, sit with your hands above your head for a while to let gravity help!
If the weather is hot, drink more fluids, as this stops salt concentration. Decrease alcohol and caffeine consumption as they dehydrate you. Your GP may be able to prescribe a mild water tablet such as bendroflumethiazide for use just before flights, or during your holidays to hot climates. This obviously depends on what other medication you are using.
If this is happening very regularly, and the exercises haven’t helped, lymphatic drainage massage or acupressure massage can help – call us to make an appointment.
GP Visit Required
More serious causes: heart and kidney disease can lead to swollen feet and ankles, so get a check up from your GP.
Immediate Medical Attention
If only one leg swells, especially if it is also tender when you squeeze your calf or it is hot when you touch it, you should seek IMMEDIATE medical attention, this can be a sign of DVT (deep vein thrombosis), a blood clot in the leg that can lead to stroke or pulmonary embolism (blood clot on the lung), both of which can be fatal.
“Frozen” shoulder is used to describe a range of problems which occur around the shoulder joint, which ultimately result in restriction of movement and pain on movement of the shoulder. In its truest form, “frozen” shoulder refers to a condition called adhesive capsulitis in medical terminology.
The shoulder capsule is a structure which is designed to hold the parts of the shoulder joint together securely and allow for lubrication to be supplied to the joint. In adhesive capsulitis this structure becomes restricted due to inflammation and pain, and can take a long time to resolve on its own.
Patient Mrs A
Mrs A a 66-year-old in good health, came to see Vino Kumar, our shoulder specialist, for treatment to her shoulder.
She had had right shoulder pain for 2 years, and it was gradually worsening. Her range of movement had decreased to about 50% of normal, she couldn’t sleep on her right side due to the pain, and pain killers weren’t helping. She had had a few sessions of sports massage at another clinic, which hadn’t helped.
Vino assessed her and diagnosed adhesive capsulitis. He explained the diagnosis and treatment options to Mrs A.
Treatment started with acupuncture for pain relief, along with gentle joint mobilisation and home exercises to gradually restore movement.
By her 8th treatment (once weekly for eight weeks), she had full pain-free movement again.
Please contact Physioplus+ Reception to make an Appointment to be Assessed should you be experiencing any kind of similar pain or symptoms - 01287 201006