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Why Ankles Swell

For many people, swollen ankle is a common condition, caused by excess fluid in the limbs. It is physically uncomfortable, and can make wearing (and finding) shoes very challenging. While this condition is often associated with pregnancy, there are many other reasons why people suffer from swollen feet.


Swollen Ankles on Just One Side

There are some obvious reasons why an ankle on just one side may swell, such as sprains, muscle strains, joint injury, or arthritis.

Another reason why an ankle on just one side of the body may swell might be connected to a vein problem in single leg, such as varicose veins. Our veins are part of the body’s circulation system, mostly carrying oxygen-depleted blood towards the heart. Damaged or weakened veins are unable to move blood back towards the heart. Consequently, the blood stands still and the retained fluid causes swollen ankles, as well as legs and feet. Skin ulcers and infection may follow if nothing is done to push the fluid back up towards the heart.

A blood clot, which can also cause swollen ankles, is a medical emergency. A blood clot or deep vein thrombosis clot can stop blood flow to the heart, causing swelling in the ankle, foot, and leg. When a blood clot breaks off and travels to the heart and lungs, it can result in death. A patient with varicose veins will be sent for an ultrasound of the veins to determine if it is a blood clot in case immediate treatment is needed.

Swollen Ankles on Both Sides

If there is swelling in both ankles that is often a sign of a broader physical condition, such as heart, liver, or kidney disease.

When the right side of your heart fails to effectively pump blood properly to the lungs to its left side, blood will collect in the lower limbs, causing swollen ankles and feet. Similarly, with kidney disease, kidneys will not filter fluid properly, so it will build up in the legs. With liver disease, the damaged liver does not produce enough of the protein, albumin, which keeps blood from leaking out of vessels. The result is fluid begins to accumulate in the ankles.

Medication may also cause swelling ankles and feet. Drugs that can cause this problem include oral contraceptives, steroids, anti-depressants, NSAIDS and diabetic medication.

Other causes of swollen ankles and feet include excess salt or alcohol consumption, and aging, being among the most common.

Diagnosing the causes of swollen ankles and prescribing the right treatment is the best way to avoid pain and further problems. If you suffer from persistent swelling in your ankles, make an appointment with your Lansdale podiatrist for a consultation.


Advanced Podiatry
Affiliated Foot and Ankle Center


About Jeffrey Wachtel

Jeffrey Wachtel has written 577 post in this blog.