If you’ve ever tried to take a ring off after wearing it all day, you may have noticed that it takes more effort to get it off than it did to put it on. This is natural; the hands tend to remain lower than the heart and gravity causes swelling.
Diagnosis: Any joint that is constantly or consistently swollen needs to be addressed by the doctor. It could be as simple as the ring example…or it could be a sign of something more sinister. The doctor can tell you what the problem is so you will know how to deal with it.
Gravity: There are several methods that can help reduce gravity swelling. Elevating the affected joint above the heart is one of the best. Ice or an ice pack is also beneficial. For rings, get some liquid soap and rub it over the finger(s), then try to gently slide the ring off.
Injuries: Rest, ice, elevation and compression are the usual methods of handling injured joints. In some cases the patient won’t want the joint to be anything *but* elevated. This was true of a knee injury suffered several years ago.
Gout: This usually starts in the big toe but can move to any joint in the body. There is no way ice or compression will be tolerable in a flare up. The breeze of someone walking past the affected joint hurts almost beyond bearable. However, rest and elevation do help.
Doctors are now beginning to recommend cherry juice for gout flare ups. If you don’t care for the juice itself, you can try the concentrate. Linnaeus also recommends strawberries, although research hasn’t been caught up with that idea.
Pregnancy: This is a delicate area in that most pregnant women have some swelling in the ankles in the latter months of gestation. However, swollen ankles are also a sign of a serious complication. Pre-eclampsia and toxemia in pregnancy present with swollen ankles and a rise in blood pressure. Always mention swollen ankles to your OB. If these conditions aren’t caught early it could kill both mother and child.
Major Illness: Kidney disease, diabetes and heart disease can be a cause for swelling and not just in joints. These need to be addressed by a doctor. Diuretics, dialysis and compression socks are possible choices. If the need isn’t great and there is a debate on the diuretics, you might try asking if dandelion root would be appropriate. It isn’t as strong as prescription diuretics but may be easier on the body.
As mentioned above, your doctor is very important in dealing with swollen joints. They don’t object if the diagnosis is minor…it very well could have been major.