Pregnancy

What Causes My Ankles and Feet to Swell?

What Causes My Ankles and Feet to Swell?

Key Takeaways

  • One of the most common causes of swelling is injury.

We often see the troublesome swelling in our ankles and feet, which affects our movements. Fortunately, this swelling is not very serious and you shouldn't worry about it if you are physically active. If swelling is associated with serious symptoms, it does require medical attention as it may be an indication of a serious illness.

Here are some of the common causes of swelling:

  • Injury – One of the most common causes of swelling is injury. Swelling results from excess stretching of ligaments in the ankle. This swelling normally reduces with adequate rest and simple home remedies like ice compress, compression bandage, and by keeping the legs in a raised position.
  • Pregnancy – Swelling in legs are common during pregnancy. But if it develops suddenly after 20th week, it may be due to a condition called preeclampsia. You should meet the doctor if swelling in legs is accompanied with other symptoms like pain in the abdomen, headache, changes in vision and frequent urge to urinate. 
  • Lymphedema – Issues with the lymph nodes may result in accumulation of lymphatic fluid that causes swelling. This condition is normal in people who have undergone radiation therapy or who have their lymph nodes removed through surgery.
  • Infection – Many infections cause edema in ankles and feet. But if you have diabetes and you get swelling in the foot along with an infection, you should see a doctor right away.
  • Blood clot – Swelling may also be caused by clotting of blood in the veins that may be just under the surface or deeper in the skin. In some cases, these clots may separate and travel to other organs, like the heart and lungs. Symptoms to look out for include low grade fever, pain in leg, and a change in the color of the affected leg along with swelling in the feet.
  • Certain medications – A number of medications like calcium channel blockers, certain hormones, steroids, antidepressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and drugs for diabetes cause swelling in ankles and feet. If the swelling is due to any of the drugs, one should discuss with the doctor.
  • Health issues – Diseases affecting the kidney, liver and heart may also cause swellings. If it appears in the evening, it may be a sign of impaired salt and water retention. Fluid accumulation during kidney diseases also results in swelling. One should meet the doctor if swelling is accompanied by lack of appetite, loss of weight, fatigue, chest pain and difficulty in breathing.