Swollen Ankles: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatments

When the body fluid gets trapped in foot, ankle, or leg, they swell, and this condition is medically known as peripheral edema. Unless any tissue or any part of the body is injured and causes this, the accumulation of the fluid does not effectuate any pain. Swelling can be typically noticed in the lower parts of the human body because of the gravitational force.

Swollen ankle, foot, or leg is usually found to occur in senior citizens. The bump can appear on both or any one side of the body. It can affect many areas of the lower portion of the human body. Swelling like these are not considered to be harmful, however, it can appear as a pointer to some inherent health problem that demands prompt medical attention and care.

Swollen Ankles


  1. Ankle Sprain: Ligaments of the ankle are injured
  2. Congestive Heart Failure: Ventricles of the human heart are affected
  3. Kidney Failure: Kidneys, or any one of them, are not functioning properly, the body is unable to get rid of the toxins
  4. Obesity: Susceptible to develop critical illnesses like type-two diabetes, cancer, or heart disease
  5. Fracture: Such condition is deemed to be treated as a medical emergency, and prompt health care services could be required
  6. Osteoarthritis: Inflammation of the joints triggered by degeneration of the cartilages
  7. Cirrhosis: Routine functions of the liver are hampered due to any viral infection or prolonged exposure to alcohols
  8. Sprains and Strains: When any part of the human body is injured, usually due to any form of physical or sports activity
  9. Achilles Hill or Achilles Tendonitis: The tendon holding the heel and the calf muscles together becomes inflamed or painful due to the exertion of mechanical pressure
  10. Hypertensive Heart Disease: Conditions associated with elevated blood pressure and typical symptoms for acute cases of hypertension include chills and sweating.
  11. Obstructive Uropathy: The urethras in the human body are blocked, the direction of the flow of the urine becomes reversed
  12. Nutritional Deficiencies or Malnutrition: The body is unable to collect the required amount of nutrients from the dietary sources
  13. Premenstrual Syndrome: PMS gives rise to various physical disorders and also emotional imbalance
  14. Hypothyroidism: The hormone secreted by the human thyroid gland determines how the cells are going to use all the energy derived from the digested foods, i.e., it decides the process of metabolism. When the body does not produce the required amount of this hormone, this condition is medically known as Hypothyroidism.
  15. Emphysema: The normal functions of the lungs in the human body are affected, and they are unable to inhale or exhale air properly from the surrounding environment
  16. Peripheral Vascular Disease: The blood flow in the vessels, originating from the brain and heart and carrying the blood to the legs and the arms, are severely affected
  17. Deep Vein Thrombosis: A clot of blood forms in a vein situated deep inside the human body
  18. Glomerulonephritis or Bright’s Disease: Critical disease can potentially interfere with the daily functions of the kidneys.
  19. Chronic Kidney Disease: This disease is progressive, and the damage to the kidneys is not reversible
  20. Cor Pulmonale: High blood pressure can effectuate this illness.
  21. Ischemic Cardiomyopathy: The muscles of the human heart are incapacitated, this condition
  22. Acute Bronchitis: A person suffers from this condition; alarmingly high levels of mucus are present in frequent coughs
  23. Myocarditis: The muscles of the heart in the human body are inflamed and it is an extremely uncommon condition triggered by numerous autoimmune diseases
  24. Ascites: The human liver stops functioning normally, fluid accumulates in the abdomen region
  25. Infective Endocarditis: The valves or the endocardium of the heart in the human body are infected and can potentially cause stroke and failure of the heart
  26. Endocarditis: The inner layers of the human heart are inflamed
  27. Mitral Valve Stenosis: The orifice of the Mitral valve is constricted
  28. Pericarditis: Inflamed pericardium kneads the walls of the chest, sharp pain generates in the chest.
  29. Rheumatic Fever: Induced by strep throat, and if it is not treated early, it can permanently damage the human heart.
  30. Varicose Veins: One in every four grown-ups suffers from this illness
  31. Bone Infection or Osteomyelitis: A bone in the human body is infected by fungi or a bacteria, it can lead to fever, stiffness, redness, and swelling
  32. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or LGD, is a degenerative illness affecting the spinal cord and the brain in the human body and lead to malfunctioning of voluntary muscles
  33. Acute Nephritis: Human kidneys are inflamed and can potentially cause failure of the kidneys if health care services are not accessed soon
  34. Teen Pregnancy: Pregnancy in women aged nineteen or below
  35. Lymphatic Obstruction or Lymphedema: Chronic condition, people have to live with and take care of the swelling throughout their entire lives
  36. Heart Failure: The human heart is not able to pump an adequate amount of blood in the body often leading to heart failure
  37. Stings or Insect Bites: If someone gets flea or mosquito bites, swelling occurs alongside with itching
  38. Burn wounds: Spilling hot water on the legs or spending outside for extended periods in daytime can lead to a painful burn and swelling may also occur
  39. Tight clothing: Extremely skin fit jeans and other kinds of clingy apparel can exert the very substantial amount of pressure on the muscles and interferes with healthy circulation
  40. Too Much Of Sodium Intake: According to Dr. Johanning, consuming too many salty foods can lead to water retention in the body to a great extent.
  41. Adverse effects of the prescribed medication: Many drugs trigger swelling of feet and ankles as a side effect, including:
  • Hormones like Testosterone and Estrogen, the latter is typically present in the Hormone Replacement Therapy pills and oral contraceptives
  • Calcium channel blockers, a kind of blood pressure medicine, including (Adalat, Nifediac, Afeditab, Procardia, Nifedical) Nifedipine, (Norvasc) Amlodipine, (Cardizem, Dilacor, Cartia, Tiazac, Diltia) Diltiazem, (Plendil) Felodipine, and (Calan, Isoptin, Covera-HS, Verelan, Isoptin SR) Verapamil
  • Androgenic, anabolic, or corticosteroids; including Prednisone
  • Antidepressants, including (MAO) MonoAmine Oxidase inhibitors like (Nardil) Phenelzine and (Parnate) Tranylcypromine; and tricyclics like (Pamelor, Aventyl) Nortriptyline, (Norpramin) Desipramine, and (Elavil, Vanatrip, Endep) Amitriptyline
  • NSAIDs or Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Diabetes medicines


Swollen Ankles

At first, the legs and the feet will start to appear swollen with time. However, after some days, the swelling will be the first thing to notice in the morning and will keep worsening as the day progresses. Chronic edema can cause pitting, i.e., an indentation will appear when the affected region is pressed for a couple of seconds. Progressive swelling can lead to ulcerations of the skin.

The following symptoms will also develop eventually.

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased urination
  • Headaches
  • Palpitations
  • Puffy eyes
  • Swollen hands and/or wrists
  • Weight gain


A swollen ankle can be treated in a home with the help of RICE.

  • Rest: Restricting the movement of the affected region until the swelling disappears or the medical practitioner commences treatment
  • Ice: Applying ice on the swelling as early as possible for fifteen to twenty minutes and repeating the process for every three to four hours.
  • Compression: Tightly wrapping the leg or the ankle without cutting off the circulation with the help of support
  • Elevation: Raising one’s leg or ankle above the level of the heart by means of pillows will help the build-up of fluids going away from the leg.

When To Seek Health Care Services?

Though swelling of ankles and feet are pretty standard with aging, at times the situation does ask for prompt medical action.

  • Some form of swelling is considered a typical symptom of the pregnancy, though the rapid and massive amount of swelling could very well be the signs of Preeclampsia
  • If any cancer patient receiving radiation experiences swelling during the therapy time
  • If someone is suffering from an infection or the body fluid trapped inside an existing blister on a swollen ankle or feet breaks open
  • If someone is feeling the loss of appetite or exhaustion accompanied by swelling in the ankles and the feet
  • When an injury in the ankle or foot, alongside intense pain and swelling, does not soothe even after elevating the foot; and when applying home remedies like compression bandage and ice packs does not improve the condition
  • Pain in the chest
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Panting with exertion or lying flat in the bed
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • The confused state of mind
  • Sharp headaches
  • Scarce amount of passed urine
  • Blood present in coughs
  • Any sudden swelling and without any visible reason
  • Swelling is associated with some form of physical injury like traffic accident sports injury, or falling.
  • Swelling happens in any one of the legs, alongside with pain, or is accompanied by dull and cold skin
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