How Do I Get Rid of Swollen Ankles?

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
How do I get rid of swollen ankles

Ankle swelling is a common symptom many experience in their lifetime. It's normal for your ankles to swell after a long day on your feet if you've been sitting for too long, but ankle swelling that comes on suddenly or doesn't respond to self-care remedies can indicate an underlying health condition. If you've noticed an increase in uncomfortable swelling in your lower legs, ankles, and feet, it may be time to talk to your vein specialist.

How Do I Get Rid of Swollen Ankles?

Swollen ankles, also known as peripheral edema, are common but often uncomfortable. Various life and health factors can cause swollen ankles, ranging from simple lifestyle choices like diet and exercise to underlying health issues such as chronic venous insufficiency, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

Once you know what's causing your swollen ankles, your vein specialist can help suggest lifestyle changes and treatments to alleviate the swelling. Typical solutions include exercising more, elevating your feet, and compression stockings.

Before diving into solutions for uncomfortable ankle swelling, it's essential to understand the potential underlying causes, as ankle swelling could be a symptom of several severe medical conditions.

Why Are My Ankles Swollen?

Swollen ankles are caused by excess fluid building up in the tissues of the lower extremities, especially the ankle and foot. A high-salt diet, hormonal changes, pregnancy, medications, or vein disease can cause fluid retention. This fluid retention is called edema.

Common causes for swollen ankles include:

Over Use: Prolonged standing can cause swelling and muscle fatigue, causing fluid to build up in the lower extremities, especially if you wear improper footwear with inadequate support, which can cause inflammation.

Age: Elderly patients may experience ankle swelling due to reduced circulation, arthritis, inflammation, or medication side effects.

Obesity: Being overweight can put increased pressure on the veins in your legs, making it harder for blood to flow back up to the heart.

Injury or Trauma: Ankle sprains, strains, fractures, or any form of trauma to the ankle can cause swelling. The body's natural response to injury is inflammation, leading to fluid accumulation.

Arthritis: Inflammation and joint damage caused by arthritis can lead to fluid accumulation in the joints, causing uncomfortable swelling.

Pregnancy: Pregnant women often experience swollen ankles, especially during the later stages of pregnancy, due to hormonal changes and increased pressure on blood vessels, which can contribute to fluid retention.

Inactivity: Extended periods of sitting where the legs are positioned below the heart may result in fluid accumulation in the lower legs. The natural movement of leg muscles is crucial in facilitating the upward flow of blood and fluid from the legs to the heart.

Poor Vein Health: Conditions that affect blood flow, such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), can lead to swollen ankles. Poor circulation hinders the efficient return of blood to the heart, causing fluid to accumulate in the lower extremities.

Lymphedema: Lymphedema is swelling caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system, which prevents fluid in the body from draining correctly. Common causes include surgery or radiation therapy for cancer, preventing lymphatic vessels, and impeding fluid circulation, resulting in noticeable edema.

Ankle swelling symptoms can include:

  • Swelling or puffiness in the ankle area, sometimes encompassing the foot and lower leg.

  • Dents or indentations in the skin or "pitting edema."

  • The skin in the affected area looks stretched and shiny.

  • Skin changes that include discoloration or dryness.

Tell your vein specialist or provider if you're experiencing severe and sudden skin changes like ulcers, discoloration, skin hardening, or open wounds, as it may indicate a more severe condition such as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).

If you experience ankle swelling with any of the following symptoms:

  • Sudden shortness of breath

  • Pain in the leg below the knee

  • Sudden onset of swelling

  • Warmth radiating from below the knee

  • Chest pains

  • Redness or discoloration of the skin near the swelling

Seek medical attention, as you could be experiencing symptoms of a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Center for Vein Restoration offers services to help you rule out a DVT. Call our hotline at 877-SCAN-DVT.

Should I Be Worried About Swollen Ankles?

Ankle swelling can have serious underlying causes, including vein disease, specifically chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Chronic venous insufficiency occurs when the veins in the legs become weakened or damaged and cannot efficiently return blood to the heart, leading to blood pooling and fluid in the lower extremities. This fluid retention can cause swelling in the lower extremities, pain, and changes in skin texture.

Swelling caused by chronic venous insufficiency is often more pronounced at the end of the day or after prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Patients with CVI may experience a feeling of heaviness or ache in the legs, which can be made worse by long periods of inactivity.

Talk to your vein specialist about your vein health and if it's contributing to your swollen ankles. At Center for Vein Restoration, our expert vein specialists will get your medical history, including when the swelling started, its severity, and if you have a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, or ankle injury.

Your provider will examine your legs, looking for discoloration, new or worsening varicose veins, and changes to skin texture to help gauge the severity of the swelling. Your CVR vein specialist may order imaging to assess your vein health, using duplex ultrasound to help evaluate your vein health and rule out chronic venous insufficiency, vein disease, DVT, or a blood clot. With this information, you and your provider will be better equipped to make a plan for treating the underlying causes of your swollen ankles.

Can I Treat Swollen Ankles At Home?

Once you know what's causing your ankle swelling, you can alleviate the discomfort with self-care remedies, medical treatment, and lifestyle changes. Talk to your vein specialist or medical provider about any significant lifestyle changes you're interested in, as they can make recommendations to suit your diagnosis.

Some self-care interventions for swollen ankles include:

Elevating Your Legs: Elevating your legs is a simple yet effective way to reduce discomfort caused by swelling and drain excess fluid from the ankles.

Wearing Compression Stockings: Compression stockings can provide external pressure to the legs, preventing fluid accumulation and improving blood circulation to help reduce swelling.

Staying Hydrated: Drinking water can help flush out excess sodium from your body, reducing

fluid retention. Dehydration can exacerbate swelling, so staying hydrated is crucial.

Lower Your Sodium Intake: Excessive salt intake can increase fluid retention. You can reduce sodium by avoiding highly processed foods, considering low-salt alternatives, and cooking at home.

Get Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity can promote circulation and prevent fluid buildup. Simple exercises like walking, swimming, or cycling can help reduce edema and are also easy on the joints. Consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine.

Eat a Balanced Diet: A balanced and nutritious diet can significantly reduce inflammation and swelling and aid in weight loss.

Avoid Prolonged Sitting or Standing: If your daily routine involves extended periods of sitting or standing, take breaks to move around to improve your circulation and prevent blood from pooling in the lower extremities.

Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight can alleviate pressure on the lower extremities and improve overall circulation.

Should I See a Doctor About My Swollen Ankles?

While many cases of swollen ankles can be effectively managed with home remedies and lifestyle adjustments, there are instances where professional medical attention is necessary.

Tell your provider or vein care specialist if you're not getting results from consistent lifestyle changes, notice any drastic skin changes, or the appearance of new varicose veins, as it may be time to discuss your vein health.

Seek medical attention immediately if you have sudden swelling in one leg, pain and redness radiating from below the knee, chest pain, or shortness of breath, as these could be symptoms of a blood clot or DVT. Center for Vein Restoration offers services to help you rule out a DVT. Call our hotline at 877-SCAN-DVT.

Swollen ankles can be uncomfortable, but the right approach often offers relief. You can manage and prevent ankle swelling by understanding the causes, implementing effective self-care, and making consistent lifestyle adjustments. Prioritize your well-being, and if in doubt, consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance tailored to your specific situation.

Discover relief from swelling and leg pain with expert vein care at the Center for Vein Restoration. Our vein care experts take time to address the root cause of your symptoms, ensuring you no longer have to endure discomfort affecting your daily life.

Consult your CVR vascular specialist today to discuss your ankle swelling and explore how we can assist you. CVR accepts various insurance providers, including Aetna, Amerigroup, Anthem, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, MultiPlan, Medicaid, and Medicare.

Contact our professional and friendly Patient Service Representatives or schedule your consultation at a nearby CVR facility. Call 240-965-3915 or find a center near you.

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