This refers to persistent swelling following an ankle injury due to inflammation of the joint lining. It is thought to be brought on by the presence of blood in the joint after an injury. This usually settles on its own quite quickly, but in some individuals it does not settle and can become a persistent problem. It is more common when an ankle injury is miss managed, for example not resting enough in the early days after an injury. It can also occur as a result of repetitive minor trauma and may be associated with 'loose' or unstable joints.
You will experience persistent swelling after an ankle injury that does not settle in the usual expected time frame. This is usually aggravated by activity such as running or sport. In people with loose joints this may happen without a discernible injury. If you experience this, the best thing to do is use rest, ice, compression and elevation to reduce the swelling and avoid activities that cause the ankle to swell, whilst awaiting an appointment.
If you think you have this condition it is well worth getting it checked out by Mr Willis-Owen. Depending on the severity X-rays may be required to exclude an underlying problem. Mild synovitis may settle with activity modification and anti-inflammatories. A series of steroid injections will usually settle more stubborn cases and rarely keyhole surgery to the ankle may be needed to take a biopsy or trim out some of the inflamed synovium. Good physiotherapy is required to fully recover. The best thing to do is to avoid this problem in the first place by managing ankle injuries properly from the outset.