Question:I'm a waitress on my feet for hours at a time. I notice more and more my left ankle swells and aches after a long shift. I did sprain that ankle years ago. Could these new symptoms come from too much time standing on that foot?
Answer:You may be experiencing some symptoms of posttraumatic arthritis. It's not uncommon for people with a previous ankle injury to start noticing pain, swelling, and/or stiffness years later.
In a recent study of patients with known ankle osteoarthritis (OA), one-third had jobs that required long periods of standing. The increased weight-bearing on a previously damaged joint may be linked with increased painful symptoms over time.
It may be a good idea to get a baseline X-ray to see what's going on in the ankle joint. This may help you and your doctor track changes that occur over the next few decades of your life. Early treatment can help prevent other problems later.
When you can take a break from standing, elevate your legs and move your foot up and down. This pumping action can help keep swelling down and pump the fluid back up toward your heart. When standing at work, try to shift your weight back and forth from foot to foot. Avoid standing on one leg for more than a few minutes.
Many studies support the idea that general physical fitness helps prevent future problems. Try to get some form of regular exercise four to five times a week. Strengthening exercises for your legs may help reduce some of your symptoms if caused by leg fatigue.Charles L. Saltzman, MD, et al. Impact of Comorbitities on the Measurement of Health in Patients with Ankle Osteoarthritis. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. November 2006. Vol. 88-A. No. 11. Pp. 2366-2372.
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