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Swollen Ankles & Feet


Common Causes of Edema in Seniors

Causes of Edema include liver, lungs, kidneys and heart diseases, as well as infections, allergies, arthritis, varicose veins, among others. In seniors, Gout and Cellulitis are common causes of swollen ankles and feet.

Illustrations Attributions:

1.  Concept: By Stephane Vignes, Jerome Bellanger [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Cellulitis: By cbinrva [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

3. Other Causes: By Injurymap [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Swollen ankles and swollen feet are considered common issues with seniors. Swelling can occur in one or both ankles and/or feet. The medical term for swelling is called Edema.

The Mayo Clinic defines Edema as the swelling caused by excess fluid trapped in the body's tissues. Edema can affect any part of the body. However, it is commonly located on the feet, ankles, legs, arms and hands.

Edema changes in the appearance of the feet and ankles; but most importantly, especially in seniors, it causes discomfort, disturbance in mobility, loss of sensation and higher risks of falls and foot ulcers. 

Types of Edema

Peripheral Edema

This type of Edema is common among pregnant women and the elderly. It affects the peripheral parts of the body, such as ankles, feet and legs, where excess fluids can accumulate.

Peripheral Edema can be a sign of problems with the circulatory system, lymphatic system, kidney failure, among others. Peripheral edema can also be caused by being in the same position, either sitting or standing, without moving for long periods of time.

Pedal Edema

According to the Arizona Center of Aging, Pedal Edema is the accumulation of fluid in the feet and lower legs that can be caused by one of two mechanisms:

  • Lymphedema: caused by obstruction or dysfunction of lymphatic outflow from the legs resulting in accumulation of protein-rich interstitial fluid.
  • Venous edema: caused by increased capillary filtration and retention of protein-poor fluid from the venous system into the interstitial space.


Some of the common recommendations to prevent swollen ankles and feet are:

  • Exercise
  • Balance Diet
  • Consumption of Vitamins and Minerals (according to your doctor's recommendation)
  • Elevation of legs when lying down
  • Massages

Nevertheless, treatments and recommendations depend on the type and cause of edema. For swollen feet, consult your Podiatrist for assessment, treatment and best recommendation according to your particular situation. Doctors of Podiatric Medicine are experts in foot care for the elderly.

 Visit a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine!

Podiatrists are experts in foot care for the elderly.


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