How to Treat a Swollen Ankle

The first step to treating a swollen ankle is to identify the cause behind it. There are many different reasons, from lifestyle decisions like not eating enough magnesium to underlying conditions like having blood clots. In this blog, we will be discussing how to identify the cause of a swollen ankle and how you can treat it.


The medical term for swelling of the ankles, feet, or legs is edema. In most cases, a swollen ankle is temporary and will go away on its own. Common causes of edema are related to lifestyle. If you carry around excess weight, are restricted in movement, or overeat salt, you could be at risk for developing edema.

People at risk of developing edema stand or walk for long periods, are obese, pregnant, or suffer from a disease that targets the heart, kidneys, liver, and veins.

Vascular Diseases

Vascular diseases can cause a more severe form of swelling. In vascular diseases, such as deep venous disease, superficial venous insufficiency, and deep vein thrombosis, damaged veins result in complications. They can lead to the pooling of blood in the leg area. If you think your swollen ankles result from vascular disease, infection, or lymphedema, you must contact your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Increasing risk factors for vascular disease are age, pregnancy, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, smoking, blood clotting problems, illness, injury, standing for a long time, and sitting for a long time.

Foot or Ankle Injury

People who strain or sprain their ankle will most likely experience painful swelling. Ankle sprains are one of the most common causes of ankle swelling. Some treatment for this includes:

  • Following the R.I.C.E. method, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
  • Visiting a doctor if at-home treatments do not cure the pain and swelling. It could be signs of a fracture or more severe soft tissue damage.


The bacterial infection of cellulitis is most familiar with those who have a weakened immune system. Diabetes, leukemia, H.I.V., and AIDS leaves you more prone to infections. Cellulitis makes the skin red, swollen, and warm to the touch. If you do not treat the condition promptly, it can spread to the bloodstream and become life-threatening. Generally speaking, doctors will prescribe antibiotics in this situation.

Medication Side Effects

People taking anti-inflammatory drugs, hormones, diabetic medication, antidepressants, and calcium channel blockers are at risk of developing swollen ankles and feet. For treatment, talk to your doctor, who will most likely prescribe a diuretic or provide methods of reducing uncomfortable swelling.


As mentioned, pregnancy can cause edema or swollen ankles. Some swelling is completely normal during pregnancy, especially during the last trimester. However, sudden swelling of the hands and face could be a sign of a condition called preeclampsia.

Those who experience mild swelling during pregnancy can usually treat it with at-home remedies. These include eating potassium-rich food, reducing salt intake, avoiding caffeine, wearing comfortable shoes and supportive stockings, avoiding standing for long periods, elevating their feet, applying a cold compress, and wearing loose-fitting clothes.

Edema Treatment

You can take specific steps to ease the pain and discomfort associated with a swollen ankle or foot.

  • Compression socks- offer a gentle squeeze that aids in blood circulation and prevents fluid from collecting in your ankles or feet, minimizing swelling and pain. Put them on in the morning and wear them as long as you’re comfortable.
  • Elevation- you should elevate your legs above your heart. Elevation will help drain built-up fluid from your legs. Let gravity give your circulatory system a boost.
  • Epsom salt bath- soak your feet and ankles in a tub with Epsom salt for 15 to 20 minutes. Many doctors promote this because it’s easy and affordable.
  • Magnesium-rich foods/supplements- low magnesium can cause your body to swell and retain water. Try eating nuts and seeds, legumes, fiber-rich grains, low-fat dairy products, greens, and dark chocolate. Daily supplements also work. After talking to your doctor, try taking 200mg to 400mg of magnesium a day.
  • Hydrate – when you are dehydrated, your body’s natural response is to hold onto as much fluid as possible. This excess water weight can lead to bloating and swelling. By simply drinking more water, you can help your body to flush out extra sodium and other toxins from your system.

Contact The Foot & Ankle Center Today!

If you, or someone you know, is suffering from edema, contact The Foot & Ankle Center. We can help manage pain, symptoms and provide treatment plans to help get you back on your feet as soon as possible. We’re here to help you. Trust our dynamic staff to provide the information and services you need to live a full, healthy life. So, what are you waiting for? Request an appointment today!