Is swelling normal after a stroke?

3 answers | Last updated: Nov 09, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

I had a stroke last year and my left side under my breast has been swollen since. I also have spasticity in my leg which causes swelling in my ankle. Is this something that happens in stroke patients?

Expert Answers

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

Yes.  This is something that I frequently see after a stroke.  I think it is important, particularly in the case of your leg, to make sure there is no clot in the veins of the leg.  An ultrasound should easily verify that the veins are open.  Ask your doctor to evaluate your leg and order an ultrasound if they think it is appropriate.

I've never been entirely clear as to why this swelling develops, but I think it has to do with fluid build-up from immobility, and possibly due to poor vascular tone from lack of neuronal control.  The best way to deal with the problem, in my experience, is to wear tight stockings and to elevate your foot when possible - to allow the fluid to drain out.

Community Answers

Hiker1 answered...

I don't have an answer for you, but my father is experiencing the same thing. He had a brain stem stroke in Aug 2012. He is in rehab now and it is slow going. They checked him for clots yet his right leg is swollen. ( this is a new development.) For some reason his right leg has been giving him difficulty during therapy. He can't put any weight on it which is not helping his recovery.

Madelune answered...

Good day to you. My mother in law has swollen foot and two years ago has stroke. I started taken care of her since April 2015. I only cook her brown rice and wholemeal pasta to control her blood pressures and glucose. We have vegetarian diet. Since then her blood pressure and glucose are normal and her swollen foot also no more. You may try to buy him far infra red product to help the tight nerve system on affected leg and hand.