If you ask the average person “who discovered gravity?”, the most likely response you will get is “Isaac Newton.” Now, Sir Isaac Newton did develop a universal gravitation theory which was used for almost 300 years—until Einstein’s theory of general relativity took its place—but he did not actually “discover” gravity. People have known for eons that things fall down, and not up.
Gravity is instrumental for making sure we all don’t fly off into space, but it also has a key role in the development of swollen feet and ankles, a condition known as “edema.”
The swelling that characterizes edema is caused by excess fluid pooling and collecting in body tissues. Technically, this can affect virtually any body part, but it is most commonly experienced in the limbs. Feet and ankles are particularly vulnerable because, as the lowest points on the body, gravity pulls the excessive fluids down.
Whereas gravity does contribute to the swelling in feet and ankles, there are an assortment of causes and risk factors for edema, including:
- Pregnancy. The body produces extra fluids during the gestation period to provide additional nourishment for both mother and child. Excess fluids, though, can end up in the lower limbs. Additionally, the increased bulk associated with pregnancy can place pressure on blood vessels and make it difficult for fluids to travel back up.
- Surgery. After a surgical procedure, the body can flood the point of trauma (from incisions and surgical work) with fluid. When this is done in the lower limbs, the fluid might stay down there if you are unable to move in a normal manner (which would help flush the fluid out).
- Long plane rides. Sitting in the same position for an extended period can also cause fluids to pool, since leg muscles are not being activated and helping to push them upwards.
- Excessive sodium. Too much salt in your diet can lead to water retention. Instead of water being flushed out in a normal manner, it collects in body tissues instead.
There are other causes of edema like medication side effects and various medical issues, but we can figure out the root cause of your swollen feet and ankles when you come to see us here at Richardson Podiatry Associates. You can speak with one of our staff members here in our Richardson, TX office by calling (972) 690-5374, or use our online form to contact us today.