Home Causes and Treatment Options for Swollen Ankles
Causes and Treatment Options for Swollen Ankles
Causes and Treatment Options for Swollen Ankles

Swollen ankles are very common and not a cause for too much worry. They are painful at times but do not pose any serious threat. The main reason for swollen ankles or feet would be pressure on the legs. So, walking or standing for a long time may typically lead to swelling of the ankles.

In most of the cases, swollen feet and ankles get better on their own. They go away in a short time with enough rest to the legs. But sometimes the swelling may remain for a long time. It may cause severe symptoms and lead to serious complications. Here we discuss the various causes and the treatment options for swollen ankles.

There are many causes of swollen ankles. It may occur due to an injury or any underlying medical conditions. Doctors tend to place importance on understanding the cause of swollen ankles before delving into different swollen ankles treatment options. So, understanding some of the causes is important. Some of the common causes of swollen ankles are:

  • Pregnancy– Swollen ankles are very common during pregnancy. It may occur due to the increased weight or increased pressure on the legs. But sometimes, it may be a sign of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that needs immediate medical attention.
  • Hot weather– When the weather is hot, the veins expand and sometimes cause poor blood flow. The fluids start collecting in the feet and ankles. This results in swelling of the ankles.
  • Injury– This is one of the main causes of swollen ankles. When there is an injury, the blood rushes to that area. The sudden rush of blood causes the ankles to swell.
  • Edema– It is a condition where tissues in the body trap the excess fluid. This results in swelling of the tissues near the feet and ankles. It can lead to difficulty in walking.
  • Lymphedema– Lymphedema occurs due to damaged lymph nodes, which happens during cancer treatment. This results in retaining of the lymphatic fluid in the body. As a result of this, the legs may get swollen.

A swollen ankle is a temporary condition and usually does not need any treatment. But sometimes, the condition may be severe and cause painful symptoms. In such cases, swollen ankles and feet may require a medical treatment for swollen ankles.

The doctors conduct various tests to determine the causes of the symptoms. These tests may include:

  • Blood test
  • Urinalysis
  • Electrocardiogram
  • X-ray

These tests help the doctor diagnose the presence of other medical conditions. Depending upon the cause, the doctor decides the type of swollen ankle treatment.

Diuretics are medications which treat swollen ankles caused by congestive heart failure. Congestive heart failure prevents the heart from circulating the blood. It leads to a build-up of excess fluids in the body and in turn causes swollen ankles. If this condition causes swollen ankles, diuretics could be a treatment. Diuretics reduce the build-up of fluids and helps to treat the ankles.

Compression treatments are also helpful to reduce the swelling from lymphedema. Lymphedema usually occurs after cancer treatment, which removes the lymph nodes. The fluids remain in the body and lead to swollen ankles. Through compression treatments, the fluids flow out and reduce the swelling.

Sometimes, kidney disorders also cause swollen ankles and feet. When the kidneys do not function properly, it leads to an increase in the salt content of the blood, leading to the retention of water. This makes the legs and feet swollen. Treatments options like high blood pressure medications, diuretics, cholesterol-lowering medications, anemia medications, low-protein diet, calcium and vitamin D supplements, and phosphate binder medications may help in reducing swollen ankles caused by kidney disease.

A few over-the-counter (OTC) medications help in relieving the pain and swelling. The doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines like Advil or Aleve. Swollen ankles due to injuries may need bone setting or a cast. Sometimes surgery may be an option to repair the injuries. But this is only in the case of severe injuries.

Often, when the symptoms of swollen ankles are mild, one can take a few self-care measures to reduce them. There are various leg and ankle swelling remedies. The self-care treatment is generally referred to with the acronym RICE:

  • Rest– The legs and feet usually take a lot of pressure throughout the day. Resting the legs for some time relieves the pressure. It also helps to reduce the pain and swelling of the ankles and feet.
  • Ice– Applying ice or ice packs would be one of the most effective ways of reducing pain caused by swollen ankles. It helps to relieve the swelling and soothes the ankles and the feet. One of the best remedies for swollen feet, it would be helpful if used in-repetition every couple of hours.
  • Compression– There are compression socks and stockings available at the stores. They prevent the collection of fluids in the legs and ankles. This helps to reduce the pain. But the stockings should not be too tight. It may hamper the blood circulation.
  • Elevation– This method is also very effective for swollen ankles and feet treatment. One can raise the ankle or the leg above the chest level and hold it for a few seconds. This method helps to move the fluids away from the leg and prevent swelling.

Swollen ankles are generally not a cause for concern. The home remedies are helpful in reducing mild symptoms. When the symptoms are severe, it needs medical attention. At times, it may also lead to serious complications. Hence, when the symptoms increase, one must consult the doctor immediately. It is not advisable to take any medications as a cure for swollen feet and ankles without consulting a doctor.