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9 Causes of Ankle Swelling & How to Treat Them

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Chances are high that we have all experienced ankle swelling at some point in our lives. For some, it may have been due to twisting or rolling our ankle, but for others, it may be due to a more serious issue.

There are a number of reasons that your ankles may be swollen, so you should always consult your doctor to get a definite answer. This ensures whatever problem you are having doesn’t get worse, and that you can get on top of a solution to the issue ASAP.

Schedule a visit with a doctor in your city.

However, if you are just curious about the most common cause of swollen ankles, read on.

Here’s What May Be Causing Your Ankles to Swell

Overweight

Obesity is one of the leading causes of a lack of circulation in your legs, which can lead to ankle swelling. This happens because extra weight puts extra pressure on your veins, which makes it more difficult for them to do their job and properly pump the blood back up to your heart.

Sedentary Lifestyle

Either sitting or standing for long periods of time is known to do some serious damage to your body, especially your veins and your muscles. If you are in the same position for hours at a time (either sitting or standing), then your veins and muscles struggle to complete their work of pumping blood and body fluids up towards your heart. And when they can’t get those fluids up there, you’ll likely find your legs swell up as a result.

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Blood Clot

Swollen ankles can be something more serious than just sitting for too long (though that too can be very damaging over time). Swollen ankles could possibly mean you have a blood clot that is solid, thus blocking proper blood flow and leaving your ankles swollen and possibly painful. The bigger issue than swollen ankles here is that you may be suffering from deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). These are blood clots that form deep in your veins, and if not treated correctly, can move to your lungs and morph into a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.

Change in Hormones

Pregnancy and menstruation can cause ankle swelling. Please consult your OB/GYN for advice if you experience swelling under the above scenarios.

Varicose Vein Issues

When your veins are damaged and unable to pump blood back up to your heart, there are many things that can occur, including swelling in your ankles. If you think you may have vein issues, contact a vein specialist as soon as possible to schedule a visit. This is the type of issue you don’t want to put off and is much better if you catch it earlier rather than later.

animation of a healthy vein and unhealthy vein

Infection

Sometimes infections can end up bringing more blood flow to an area in your body, and if you’ve infected your ankle in some way, you may find that increased blood flow manifests itself as a swollen ankle.

Injury

As mentioned above, sometimes a swollen ankle is the result of an injury, the most common of which is a sprained ankle. According to the American Orthopeadic Foot & Ankle Society, a few tips for soothing a sprained ankle include wearing an ankle brace, applying ice or a compression wrap to the hurt ankle, and elevating your leg. It’s also important to give yourself enough time to rest while you recover from a sprained ankle.

Medication Side Effect

It’s no secret that many medications come with a slew of potential side effects, one of which may be swollen ankles. This happens most commonly with antidepressants and birth control pills with estrogen, as well as testosterone pills.

If you are experiencing swollen ankles as a side effect of a medication you’re on, we suggest you consult your doctor who will be able to prescribe different medications or suggestions for easing the swelling, like elevating your legs or wearing compression stockings to reduce the swelling in your ankles.

Liver disease

If your body is not producing enough albumin, then you will likely run into some issues. Albumin is what keeps fluid from leaking out of your blood vessels and going into tissues that surround those vessels. And if your body is struggling to produce enough of that, it may react by having a build-up of fluids, which leads to swelling, especially in the ankle area.

Come to Vein Clinics of America if you have swelling with visible large varicose veins. Otherwise, we recommend that you contact your primary care physician first to rule out other possibilities of your ankle swelling.

Are you experiencing ankle swelling?

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Satish Vayuvegula
Dr. Satish Vayuvegula is the National Medical Director at Vein Clinics of America. Certified by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine, Dr. Satish Vayuvegula is recognized as a physician who has met rigorous standards of knowledge and extensive training in phlebology, the diagnosis and treatment of varicose vein disease and related disorders. Dr. Satish also shares his passion and expertise by serving as a board member of the American Vein and Lymphatic Society, the predominant national organization for venous and lymphatic disease.

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