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Causes and Treatments of Painful Ankle Swelling After a Kidney Transplant

written by: Valerie Tandoi • edited by: Stephanie Mojica • updated: 3/21/2011

Painful ankle swelling after kidney transplant can be a common ailment, but it is still very important to talk to your doctor if you begin experiencing this symptom. There are treatments available to reduce the pain and swelling.

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    Kidney Transplant

    kidney 

    If you have been in an accident, have diabetes, suffer from polycystic kidney disease or have extremely high blood pressure you may need a kidney transplant. Remember, your body only needs one kidney to function so a kidney transplant is only necessary if both kidneys are not in working order. Although a kidney transplant is a life-saving procedure that can't be avoided if your kidneys are failing, there can always be side effects that accompany any surgery. Painful ankle swelling after kidney transplant is one thing that you should be aware of if you are having this operation.

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    What Causes Ankle Swelling?

    Painful ankle swelling after a kidney transplant is something that some post-op kidney surgery patients find themselves experiencing. The medical term for this type of swelling is edema. Edema can refer to excess fluid build up in any body tissue. The ankles is one of the most common places where you can experience edema. After a kidney transplant, it takes your body time to adjust to the new kidney. You are also now functioning with just one kidney instead of two and can be more prone to kidney infections than a person that has never had any kidney-related health problems.

    It is important to watch how much salt is in your diet if you have had a kidney transplant. Your kidneys determine how much salt will be excreted out of your body through your urine. Having a salty diet if you have kidney problems or have had a kidney transplant can result in edema. Salt can make anyone retain water, but in people with kidney issues the buildup of a lot of fluid in one spot is more likely. It is important to stay in contact with your doctor if you experience ankle swelling. It could just mean you need dietary changes or a new medication, but it could also be a sign that your new kidney is failing.

    Ankle swelling is also common even after transplant if you suffer from diabetes or if you have high blood pressure.

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    How to Treat Ankle Swelling

    There are many at home remedies that you can try to reduce your ankle swelling. Try putting less weight on your ankles by putting your feet up a few times a day for at least 30 minutes. A healthy diet low in salt can also reduce ankle swelling or help to prevent edema completely.

    If you are suffering from edema you can also choose to wear stockings. Wearing stockings can help the blood vessels in your legs and ankles to compress, making fluid retention less of a problem. You can buy special stockings made for edema sufferers or just pick up a pair of regular stockings from a drug store.

    Your doctor also may be able to put you on some medications to help with your ankle swelling. A doctor may want you to take water pills or something as simple as a low dose of over the counter diuretics. It is best to consult your doctor before starting any new medications. You will likely be on other prescription drugs after your transplant and your doctor can warn you about any drug interactions.

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    Resources

    Auora Health Care: Kidney Transplant: http://www.aurorahealthcare.org/yourhealth/healthgate/getcontent.asp?URLhealthgate=%2214828.html%22

    Up-to-date Patient Information: Edema: http://www.uptodate.com/contents/patient-information-edema-swelling

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