Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
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Treating Swollen Ankles

Tuesday, 08 Nov 2011 08:50 AM

Question: Both of my ankles are swollen. I have tried support hose and the medication furosemide with no improvement. What type of doctor could help me?
Dr. Hibberd's Answer:
Swollen ankles that have not responded to support hose and diuretic use need further attention before you develop chronic skin changes that are difficult to treat, such as dark pigmentation and ulcerations. In some cases, serious damage to your circulatory system could occur that may threaten you with premature clot formation, not to mention the consequences of not addressing the underlying cause of the swelling. If bad veins are the cause, removal is not always the correct thing to do.
The cause of your swelling must be clearly identified to provide you with the correct treatment. If bad veins are the cause, elevation and support hose will improve the swelling.
It appears that this is resistant to hose and diuretics, so you will need to have a professional examine you to see if this is fluid retention, such as we see in heart failure, a lymphatic obstruction (lymphedema), or a venous obstruction related to the formation of clots (venous thrombosis) or tumors, a medication causing edema, or edema related to an endocrine disorder (hypothyroidism).
As you can see, you're overdue for further evaluation. I suggest you see your primary care physician first, then arrange for specialty vascular consultation as indicated by the cause(s) found. Avoid self-referral to vascular centers without your doctor's concurrence.

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