By Dr Harold Gunatillake - Health Writer
When you are young and active swelling of the legs and round the ankles are a rarity unless you suffer from a disease like nephritis- chronic inflammation of the kidneys due to many reasons.
Venous blood pumping from the feet and legs work efficiently through the pumping action of the peripheral heart and that would be your calf muscles. There is an efficient lymphatic system which takes extra-cellular body fluids in the legs towards the heart an additional system to remove fluid (lymph) from the lower extremity.
As you get older, in your sixties you may notice a swelling round your ankles and feet and pressing the skin with the thumb, the skin would pit due to accumulation of fluid in the tissues.
This is referred to as ‘pitting oedema’ which could arise due to lack of movement of your legs or an underlying disease condition. When ravelling in an airplane for long hours you could get swelling around your ankles and feet due to non-movement of your legs, and the peripheral pump being inactive.
This condition is called lymphatic stasis which disappears after a few hours at ground level when keep walking. It is advised to walk on the isle or move your feet in a circular sequence to avoid this uncomfortable situation.
You could get mild painless swelling of legs for no reason. As you get older if you are prone to arthritis you may get swelling round the ankle joints if arthritis has set in.
This would be painful and needs treating the arthritis.Those people suffering from malnutrition in developing countries may have generalised and leg swelling. Anaemia could be responsible, too.Those individuals having varicose veins of the legs with time will notice swelling around the ankles. During the early stages strapping and with progress of the varicose veins may need to undergo surgery to correct the situation.
In addition you get a flush round the ankles with minute tortuous veins and skin rashes. All this is due to bad circulation of venous blood.
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