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Swelling Up From Your MS

February 21, 2018

You may notice discomfort and swelling in both your feet and ankles, as it is common in those with multiple sclerosis. This is caused by an accumulation of lymphatic fluid (lymphedema). This is considered to be a secondary symptom of the disease, as they mostly develop due to a lack of mobility instead of directly because of demyelination.

Lymphedema is usually painless—what you will mostly experience is tightening of the skin as it may thicken and become fibrous. Swelling may make ordinary things more difficult such as wearing certain shoes, which can obstruct your mobility, making daily activities more difficult.
The heat may exacerbate this problem, therefore the summer months may be more difficult for you since blood vessels and lymph channels dilate more in the heat.

Swelling can sometimes be accompanied by shortness of breath, coughing and a general feeling of being ill. This is because sometimes lymphedema can occur due to the heart not functioning properly.

Thrombophlebitis, the inflammation in the veins, is another condition that can cause swelling. Due to this condition, one can experience rapid swelling, especially in one leg, and is normally accompanied by redness and pain.

After being assessed by your physician to determine which condition is the cause of your swelling, whichever treatment you need can be determined. Doctors will often treat lymphedema with diuretics, although that does not solve the overall problem. They can work initially, but the fluid will eventually return, ultimately resulting in dehydration for the patient because of all the excess fluid in their extremities.

Elevating the legs is definitely helpful as it allows for fluid to be pushed back into the body and absorbed into more areas throughout the body. The affected leg or legs should always be placed higher than the hips.

A compression pump system can also be helpful as it can assist in pushing the fluid back up into the body. This works by having a fitted sleeve placed over the affected area and fastening it with Velcro, when the pump is activated high pressure compression is able to move through several different compartments, which gives a natural kneading therapy to the muscles. This allows fluid to get back into circulation and be carried away.

Even when the pump is not being used, a graduated compression stocking should be worn to increase circulation. Things like massages and physical exercise have also been shown to offer some relief, even though it can be difficult to do if you are experiencing extreme mobility difficulties.

If you are experiencing swollen ankles and feet you should not hesitate to contact your physician so the condition can be diagnosed and proper treatment can be prescribed.