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What causes swollen feet and ankles in people with multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Swollen feet and ankles are common in multiple sclerosis (MS) and are caused by an accumulation of lymphatic fluid (lymphedema). They are considered to be a secondary symptom of the disease, because they most often develop due to a lack of mobility instead of arising as a direct result of demyelination.

Lymphatic fluid delivers nutrients and other substances to and from organs in the body. Normally, the contractions of active leg muscles move this fluid along in lymphatic channels, propelling it upward towards the body cavity. When the body becomes less mobile, as may happen with MS, the kneading action does not occur, the fluid leaks from the channels and accumulates by gravity in the ankles and feet.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.