Swollen Ankles


Various factors can cause swollen ankles and it is relatively common among older people. People with inflamed ankles experience a lot of symptoms. Some are mild while others are extremely disabling preventing the person from putting too much force on the distressed foot throughout the day. The condition is an indication that the soft tissues in the lower legs are flooded with too much fluid.

Treatment for swollen ankles is needed even if the person is not in pain. The doctor will first determine what is causing the ankles to become inflamed and initiate the appropriate treatment thereafter. People experiencing persistent inflamed ankles along with other symptoms should never delay visiting the doctor as it may be an indication of a serious medical problem.

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What do swollen ankles indicate?

Swollen ankles are a sign that the soft tissues surrounding the ankles are flooded with fluid. An inflamed ankle could also be an indication that the ligaments have become overextended. The ligaments are responsible in keeping the ankle in its place. Whether the inflammation occurred as a result of the overextension of the ligaments or excess fluids within the soft tissues, mobility is impaired and pain is often felt.

Who is at risk of having swollen ankles?

Anyone can experience swollen ankles at some point of their lives, though there are individuals who are more vulnerable to experience it more often. These people have the risk factors for inflamed ankles.

  • Pregnant women
  • Overweight and obese people
  • Kidney patients
  • People with cardiovascular diseases
  • Having sprained ankles
  • Suffering from a fractured bone
  • Sitting or standing for long periods of time
  • Driving or flying on long journeys

What causes the ankles to become swollen?

There is an exhaustive list of reasons why people get swollen ankles, and some of the common causes are:

  • Traumatic injury

A broken or sprained ankle is among the main reasons for having swollen ankles. Even mild injuries could result into ankle inflammation as well as stress fractures around the joints of the ankle. Most of the time it is related to sports which could either be due to overuse, misstep or an injurious fall.

  • Infection

Although this rarely occurs, but infections occurring around the ankle joints, septic joints or even in the surrounding soft tissues could lead to inflamed ankles.

  • Inappropriate footwear

This is another common reason why an ankle gets inflamed which could be due to uncomfortable footwear or incorrect size of the footwear.

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  • Ankle arthritis

A condition common among people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis as well as those who have sustained ankle joint injury, ankle arthritis is quite painful.

  • Gout

Gout is a type of arthritis which occurs as a result of the uric acid accumulating in the ankle. Uric acid plays a vital role in digestion that is responsible for eliminating toxic substances and wastes from the body.

  • Peripheral Edema

This condition occurs when too much pressure is placed on the veins of the legs either due to aging, obesity, pregnancy or varicose veins.

  • Vascular obstruction

Vascular obstruction like DVT impairs normal blood flow in one leg resulting in a swollen ankle.

  • Certain medications

Some drugs can cause ankles to become inflamed such as calcium channel blockers, steroids, estrogen, antidepressants, laxative, diabetes medications and NSAIDs.

Swollen ankles and associated health problems

People whose ankles are swollen will experience various ailments, depending on the underlying cause. Most people feel weak and tenderness on the affected ankle along with headache, chills, fever, joint stiffness, wet cough, muscle cramps, swollen joint, declining range of movement and varicose veins. On the other hand, there are symptoms that call for immediate medical attention which may indicate potentially life-threatening medical condition such as dizziness, chest pain, confusion, abdominal swelling and pain, reduced or increased urine output, wheezing, vomiting, nausea, high fever and suspicious weight gain. People showing these symptoms along with swollen ankles should be taken to the hospital right away for definitive diagnosis and prompt treatment.

Swollen Ankles treatment

An important word of caution should be noted when resorting to various methods of treating swollen ankles. It is extremely important for anyone to seek medical advice if the swelling does not resolve after trying traditional methods as the inflammation may be due to more serious medical conditions such as liver dysfunction, kidney disease and heart failure. Besides, people should shy away from self-medicating because some drugs could actually worsen the swelling instead of reduce it. Swollen ankles can be addressed by eating a balanced diet, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. People should also minimize their consumption of table salt, processed foods and carbonated beverages.

Swollen ankles can affect anyone but those who have the risk factors should be wary and vigilant of the symptoms as the condition may signal a more serious medical concern.


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