I was wondering how shall I describe one's foot, knee etc. which due to some injuries in sport has swollen and is filled with fluid. It is most of the time painful and can cause you feel uncomfortable. It usually restricts the range of motion. For more clarification, I have added an image to the post. Please have a look at it and let me know how shall I explain this injury in both everyday English and technical terms.

PS. As far as I am concerned, the term "edema" cannot be used in this case, while edema is not caused by an injury to a particular body tissue. (Please correct me if I am wrong.)

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  • Hello A-friend. This question strikes me as better for ELL, rather than here. Nonetheless, you got a good answer here. Would you like me to ask the ELL mods if they will take it?
    – Ian Campbell
    May 27 at 11:39

1 Answer 1


There are a couple of terms you could use. You don't need to be technical with a doctor or anyone else. "Edema" means (from link):

A local or generalized condition in which body tissues contain an excessive amount of tissue fluid in the interstitial spaces.

This can be one of the symptoms of a sprain, so you could be correct in using this. As noted on WebMD (emphasis is mine):

Causes of Edema: Things like a twisted ankle, a bee sting, or a skin infection will cause edema. In some cases, like an infection, this may be helpful. More fluid from your blood vessels puts more infection-fighting white blood cells in the swollen area.

In this context it would be called "traumatic edema" or "post-traumatic edema", depending on the duration and state of healing of the injury. However, sprains are often also accompanied by "bruising", which is the purple discoloration you see with blood-vessel damage.

You could always just call it swelling...

  • Thank you @bob1. Just I am wondering if I should say: "(s)he has developed a traumatic edema due to (say) a twisted ankle" or what? Or maybe, "(s)he has a traumatic edema on her/his ankle due to blah blah blah." Also, is it understandable for undereducated people too?
    – A-friend
    May 27 at 10:58
  • 2
    @A-friend Edema is an uncountable noun. You should not use an indefinite article.
    – Ian Campbell
    May 27 at 11:36
  • 3
    @A-friend For a public audience I would probably use "swelling". I would write "she twisted her ankle and it became swollen", or "she has swelling around her ankle".
    – Bryan Krause
    May 27 at 14:00
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    @A-friend use Bryan Krause's terminology. For people who aren't medical professionals you should just use swelling; it is perfectly acceptable and easily understood by the majority of (english speaking) people.
    – bob1
    May 27 at 22:34
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    @A-friend Maybe 200 years ago; no, no one uses that word anymore. Do you use it or hear it used by others?
    – Bryan Krause
    May 29 at 11:14

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