Why Do Legs and Ankles Swell Up?

If you notice swelling in your ankles, it's a good idea to find out what the problem is. Injuries, gout and arthritis are fairly common causes, but obesity, pregnancy and circulation problems are also possible. Treatments differ depending on the root cause of the inflammation.

1) Arthritis: Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can attack joints. RA tends to hit small bones, such as those in the hands, wrists, feet and ankles. Osteoarthritis is usually caused by wear and tear. Joints in the hips, knees and ankles are usually affected by it over the course of a lifetime.

RA is best treated by the doctors, as it is an auto-immune disorder. Osteoarthritis can be treated by both a doctor and some home remedies. Topical pain relievers such as capsaicin, willow bark and tea tree oil may be useful, though avoid willow if you are allergic to aspirin. Internally, willow and gotu kola could help.

2) Clots: If the inflammation is only in one joint, it could be the result of a blood clot, also called deep vein thrombosis. This is potentially both life altering and life threatening, and should be treated immediately. If your doctor is not available, go to urgent care or the emergency room if you suspect a clot.

3) Gout: The buildup of uric acid in your blood stream can lead to crystals that get deposited in your joints. Those of the feet and ankles are usually the first to show signs of it The initial diagnosis should be made by your doctor, and you will probably receive some prescriptions to help control the problem.

Cherry juice may also be suggested, and it is a very good idea. It can help reduce uric acid in the blood and it can help reduce inflammation. Do not use willow bark if you have gout, as it can cause flare ups. It has the same active ingredient as aspirin, which should also be avoided.

4) Infection: Most causes of this condition are of fluid, but that from an infection could be full of pus. Again, it may be only on one ankle, if it is a localized infection. You may need antibiotics to deal with it, and it is important to check with the doctor. Untreated infections can cause a lot of problems, spreading to other parts of the body. Garlic may be helpful internally. Externally, a drawing agent such as baking soda could help.

5) Injury: This is probably the most common cause of inflammation, especially in young people. Sprains, strains and breaks will cause the condition. Treatment depends in part on which type of injury it is, but all of them will respond to RICE, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Hot wraps may be applied after the first forty-eight hours. You can use a decoction of willow bark and gotu kola for this application.

6) Obesity: Being overweight puts a lot of pressure on the joints, especially from the knees down. This overwork can lead to swelling. Besides losing weight, elevation and ice may be helpful.

7) Pregnancy: If you notice your ankles have gotten larger, call the doctor; two lives are at stake … yours and the babies. This is not always a sign of pre-eclampsia, but it could be. Only your doctor can diagnose it, and the doctor is the best one to treat it. There are several things that can be done, but all require expert medical attention.

8) Varicose veins: This is also a circulation issue, and it's one most people do not appreciate a lot. Besides swelling and pain, they are unsightly. They can be controlled to a certain extent by wearing compression stockings and keeping your legs and feet propped up. You'll want to avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time, and if you're overweight, dropping the extra pounds will help.

Before you start any new herbal remedy or home treatment, check with your doctor and / or pharmacist. Let them know all the supplements and herbal remedies you are using so they can help you prevent harmful interactions between the herbs and any medications you are taking.