What are the Causes of Swollen Ankles?


It is reassuring that not all cases of swollen ankles and feet are caused by a serious condition. Many adults, particularly those who are overweight or work on their feet for many hours a day, normally have a small amount of swelling at the end of the day due to blood pooling. This swelling typically goes away by morning or at the most a day or two.

Common and obvious causes of swollen ankles include:

  • an impending menstrual period
  • a recent high-salt meal
  • too many hours spent sitting still
  • standing for prolonged periods of time

Keeping the Feet & Legs Healthy: The Calf Muscles- Our “Second Heart”:


It is important for people to know how important the calf muscles are to lower leg and overall body health. Our calf muscles act like a “second heart”, pumping blood back up to the heart and lungs to become re-oxygenated. Without proper leg care and preventive measures, most of us will suffer from some degree of leg swelling and/or discomfort with age.

Early Diagnosis and Preventive Treatments are Key:

Swollen ankles and legs can in many cases be prevented. However, if we ignore our leg health, Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) can develop and if left unchecked, becomes serious and leads to disability and loss of independence. CVI is a progressive disease that does NOT go away on its own without proper diagnosis and treatment.

The earlier swollen ankles are diagnosed and treated, the better your chances of preventing serious complications such as skin ulcers, infections and deep-vein thrombosis (DVT).

Preventing Swollen Ankles:

If you must take a long trip and will be sitting for a long time,

  • Exercise your legs regularly. This helps pump fluid from your legs back to your heart
  • If you need to stand for extended periods of time, take frequent breaks to sit down. Put your legs on pillows to raise them above your heart while lying down when taking a break at the end of the day.
  • Follow a low-salt diet, which may reduce fluid buildup and swelling.
  • Lose weight if you need to
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing or garters around your thighs
  • When traveling, take breaks often to stand up and move around. Or you can flex and extend your legs, feet, and ankles about 10 times every 30 minutes to keep the blood flowing in the leg veins.
  • Practice good skin hygiene
  • Take antibiotics as prescribed by your medical doctor if needed to treat skin infections
  • Wear medical-grade support socks and hosiery (prescribed by your medical doctor) or over-the-counter compression hosiery (15-20 mm Hg).

The goals of preventive treatment and care are to increase leg comfort and stamina from day to day. Over the longer term, the goals are to reduce the pooling of blood, prevent Chronic Venous Insufficiency, skin infections and ulcers and DVT.

Dr. Horowitz has received certification as a Medical Compression Hosiery Custom Fitter from The Orthotic Group.

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