Swelling in the Ankles: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

What is it? It is a sign of fluid accumulation or inflammation of the joint and the ankle tissues.

The slight inflammation in the ankle is a common occurrence after standing for an extended period.

Swelling in the ankles is also known as edema; it can result from severe infections, trauma, circulatory disorders, heart (heart) disorders, and other abnormal processes.

One or both ankles may swell for a short time, such as after sitting for a long time during a long-haul flight.

Swelling of the ankles may also be due to pregnancy, such as: being overweight, vascular problems, or orthopedic conditions, such as a broken bone or ankle sprain.

It can also indicate a potentially serious disorder, such as congestive heart failure, deep vein thrombosis, and liver failure.

Symptoms of swelling in the ankles

Inflammation in the ankle may be accompanied by other symptoms depending on the underlying disease, disorder, or disease.


For example, inflammation accompanied by pain and tenderness may indicate an injury to the joint; While, whereas swelling with difficulty breathing may exhibit a condition related to the heart.

The symptoms that can accompany the swelling of the ankle are:

  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Fever and chills.
  • Headache.
  • Rigidity in the joints.
  • Cough with a lot of phlegm (wet cough).
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Area of ​​pain or sensitivity.
  • Eruption.
  • Redness in inflamed joints.
  • Range of reduced movement or movement.
  • Varicose veins

Severe symptoms

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Pain in the chest can be intense and dull or sharp and penetrating.
  • Confusion.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • High fever.
  • Increase or decrease in the production of urine.
  • Indigestion or abdominal pain.
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Redness and hot skin
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing.
  • Unexplained weight gain (maybe due to excessive fluid accumulation).

What causes inflammation in the ankle?

Relatively minor conditions can cause inflammation of the ankle. Still, it can also be caused by various diseases, disorders, and states, including infections, inflammation, trauma, heart disease, and other abnormal processes.

  • Causes related to injuries of ankle swelling
  • A broken bone or other trauma.
  • Muscles, ligaments, or cartilage damage, such as a torn ligament or muscle pull.
  • Repetitive strain injury.
  • Degenerative, infectious, inflammatory, and autoimmune causes of ankle swelling.

Swollen ankles can accompany inflammatory, infectious and autoimmune diseases, including:

  • Amyloidosis
  • Bursitis.
  • Drop.
  • Infection.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Septic arthritis.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus.

Cardiovascular causes

Ankle Swelling can also be caused by disorders related to the circulatory system, such as:

  • Cardiomyopathy (weakened heart muscle or abnormal function).
  • Cardiovascular disease (due to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries).
  • Chronic venous insufficiency (poor blood flow through the veins).
  • Deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in the leg that can come off, causing a pulmonary embolism in the lung, a heart attack, or stroke).
  • Endocarditis (infection of the inner lining of the heart).
  • Heart failure
  • The disease of the valves of the heart.
  • Kawasaki disease (a rare disease consisting of inflammation of blood vessels).
  • Pericarditis (infection of the membrane that surrounds the heart).
  • Peripheral arterial disease (also called peripheral vascular disease, is a narrowing or blockage of the arteries due to the accumulation of fat and cholesterol in the walls of the arteries, which limits blood flow to the extremities).
  • Varicose veins

Other causes of inflammation in the ankle

Other conditions or disorders that can lead to swelling of the ankles include:

  • Being overweight.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Fluid retention, pregnancy, or premenstrual syndrome.
  • Hyponatremia (low sodium levels is a life-threatening condition)
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Hepatic or renal failure.
  • The lymphatic obstruction.
  • Nephrotic syndrome (kidney disorder).
  • Preeclampsia (a severe condition that can occur during pregnancy).
  • Pulmonary hypertension.


It is important to remember that the most effective treatment of inflammation in the ankle is to know the exact cause of the condition.

For immediate treatment, as a first step, the doctor will order you to perform the typical ‘RICE’ method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) to treat inflammation.

This means that you should rest, apply ice, compress, and elevate the inflamed joint in the early stages.

Once the specific cause of the inflammation is understood, you can proceed to more specific interventions to help eliminate the swelling.