What Causes Ankles to Swell?

Swelling of the ankle occurs when there is an accumulation of fluid in the tissues surrounding the ankle or in the ankle joint. Swelling of the ankle can be caused due to various reasons.

Some Causes of Ankle Swelling

Let us now study some of the causes that lead to the swelling of ankles.

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • obstruction of blood flow
  • peripheral edema
  • gout
  • injury
  • diseases

rheumatoid arthritis: This is a condition that is caused due to the inflammation around the joints. It can lead to pain in the joints and swelling.

obstruction of blood flow: When there is an obstruction to the normal flow of blood, it can lead to swelling around the ankles as the normal process of circulation is impaired. A common cause of this kind of vascular obstruction would be a blood clot. When this occurs, it typically affects one leg and results in the swelling of the soft tissues found in the ankle and the foot. The swelling can also spread to further up the leg.

peripheral edema: Like vascular obstruction, peripheral edema is also caused due to complications in the circulation process. This is often seen in both the legs. Conditions that lay pressure on the veins in the legs can lead to chronic swelling. This could be caused due to varicose veins, pregnancy, obesity or old age.

gout: The body produces substances such as uric acid to aid in the process of digestion. People who suffer due to gout, accumulate uric acid crystals in the joints and this leads to swelling and inflammation.

injury: Any injury such as a sprain or a fracture of the ankle can also lead to its swelling.

diseases: Some diseases such as those related to the heart, kidney or liver failure, can also lead to retention of excessive fluid in the body. This will in turn, result in the swelling of the foot, ankle and sometimes, the entire leg.

Common Situations That Can Lead to Ankle Swelling

The following are some of the common situations that can lead to the swelling of ankles.

  • standing for a long period of time
  • prolonged travel
  • menstrual periods for some women
  • environmental (insect bites, sting, burn)

Steps That Can Alleviate Swollen Ankle

The following suggestions may help to alleviate pain caused due to swollen ankles.

  • keeping the legs in a slightly elevated position using soft cushions
  • exercising is supposed to be beneficial and is said to reduce the swelling and improve circulation
  • wearing support stockings (sold at most drug and medical supply stores)
  • follow a low-salt diet which reduces fluid retention and swelling
  • applying ice packs

If the swelling persists, it is best to immediately consult a professional medical practitioner.

Further Reading on Ankle Swelling

For more information on what causes ankles to swell, you can also read:

What causes Ankles to swell

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