Swollen tissue in diabetic patient


Q: I am a diabetic and I would like to know if I should be concerned because my left foot and ankle have suddenly become very swollen. I have tried icing and elevating the effected foot but nothing has helped. Is this something that should be seen by a physician? Is it an immediate issue requiring medical attention?

Symptoms:  Swollen foot and ankle. No bruise or abrasion. No open wound.

A:   Thank you for your question. This swelling could be caused by water retention. Diabetic patients can often have concomitant complications with blood pressure and fluid retention. This can cause swelling of the lower limbs, which is referred to as edema. Your description does not seem to lead us to believe that this is a medical emergency however we would like you to see your doctor as soon as you can. If you notice any colour changes, cool sensation, or decreased sensation, please see your doctor immediately as this may indicate that there is decreased circulation to the lower limb. This is very common in diabetic populations, and if left untreated can result in tissue necrosis and gangrene.

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Comments / Follow Ups

Patient: I was informed that swelling on one side alone can be an indication of a blood clot. I spent several hours in the emergency room being checked out... including an UltraSound of my left leg. No clot was found but the doctor was adamant that I had made the right choice in visiting the ER.
My regular physician later said he felt sure I had a ruptured cyst in my knee and that gravity caused the fluids released to pool in my foot and ankle.
I do thank you for answering my question.

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