Why are my ankles swollen?

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In order to make this easy and interesting, I am writing this as if I were talking to a patient in my office at the Center for Vein Restoration!

There are many causes of ankle swelling. The basic ones include heart, kidney, liver, and lung abnormalities which are typically assessed and evaluated by your primary care physician prior to the patient being referred to me.

Our assessment at CVR is for a very easily treatable cause of ankle swelling known as venous insufficiency. This is a condition caused by abnormal functioning valves in the superficial venous system. When you walk, your calf muscles contract and “pump” the venous blood back towards your heart. When standing or sitting, there are One-way valves that should close in 0.5 seconds. These valves can become dysfunctional based on genetics, female sex, prior pregnancy, obesity, or prior blood clots. When these valves are dysfunctional, it leads to venous reflux and there is pooling of blood in the lower leg when sitting or standing. This “pooled blood” is a common and treatable source of ankle swelling.

Dr. Edelman’s Vein Clinic in Norwalk and Stamford, CT

At my clinic, we evaluate valve function with a simple venous ultrasound, and offer both insurance based and self -pay treatment options for appropriate patients. Bear in mind that although compression stockings can be helpful, they do not eliminate the underlying cause of reflux and are analogous to using a sump pump for flood I the basement without treating the underlying leak.

If the venous exam is normal and the above conditions in the second paragraph have been ruled out (including our review of the medicines you are taking), we call this condition lymphedema. I will discuss the evaluation and treatment of this in my next blog!

Dr. Mark Edelman, MD brings extensive experience as an in-clinic specialist in venous insufficiency, and in the minimally invasive treatment of varicose veins. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Radiology, with an added qualification in vascular/interventional radiology.

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