Podiatrist (Foot and Ankle Specialist) Questions Ankle Injuries and Disorders

Does swelling around the ankle indicate a serious injury?

I twisted my ankle while walking the other day. I was okay with the pain was minimal. However, this morning I noticed slight swelling around my ankle and I am worried if it means a serious injury. Or is it just a reaction? The pain has not changed.

14 Answers

Swelling of the ankles can be a sign of routine vascular (venous) issues that manifest itself for issues that are non-life threatening, but if diagnosed early, can prevent more serious conditions in the future. Swelling from trauma can be a result of a possible fracture, but the ligaments or tendons could have been partially torn also, which is why an X-ray would always be recommended.
No, swelling in and of itself does not just automatically mean an injury. However, it should be assessed if it has recently started.
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Probable sprain strain need an X-ray
YES
Yes, it can be if you sprained or twisted the ankle. It could also mean a circulatory/vascular issue. See a foot doctor and a vascular specialist immediately.
The swelling in her foot could mean that there was a fracture or damage to the ligaments of the ankle. It would be best to be evaluated with a minimum of an x-ray and an examination to make sure that there is no major damage. With ligamentous injuries the prompt treatment helps with minimizing the long-term damage of the injury.
Any swelling should be checked by a specialist. It might be something that will go away by itself or something that needs to be treated. There is not one single answer to your question.
Ankle sprains are probably the most undertreated injuries of the ankle that can lead to problems down the road. I always recommend aggressive conservative foot and ankle immobilization early on with a walking cast boot, followed up with ankle rehab with a good physical therapist.
You might have a soft tissue injury of your ankle joint ligaments. You can try rest, ice, elevation, and use ACE wrap for compression. If your ankle swelling does not reduce down, then please go visit a podiatrist near your area for further evaluation.
Don’t fool around with ankle sprains. Most times they are not treated properly, which can lead to further injury and chronic pain.
Swelling is a physiologic response to the trauma resulting in injury to small blood vessels promoting the bruising that is seen, but also an escape of fluid from the vascular system into the interstitial or soft tissue. The initial phase of healing following the bodies initial management of local bleeding through clotting is an inflammatory phase with introduction of factors and other transmitters promoting migration of cells necessary to promote healing of the tissue. There are many factors that may contribute to the swelling of the area and not all equate to severity of injury. With that said, it would make sense that the greater the injury, the more likely to have greater tissue involvement and the swelling would be worse. When this occurs in a closed compartment of tissue, a concerning secondary condition known as compartment syndrome may occur. For most injuries beyond swelling we consider pain to the area, local deformity, and associated dysfunction of part to grade severity. If there is no noted deformity, the part functions pain free with no appreciated altered movements and, in the case of an ankle's ability to bear weight on the extremity, understand swelling is a physiologic response that will resolve with rest, elevation, and time. If it fails to do so, this may be a greater indicator of injury.
This is not uncommon after an ankle sprain. Sometimes swelling and bruising can occur in the days following the injury. I would recommend seeing your podiatrist.
It is likely that you strained, or sprained, one of the ligaments in your ankle. Swelling is your bodies reaction to damage. Pedal and ankle injuries are frustrating due to the difficulty we have in staying off our feel to let injuries heal. If the pain persists past a week or becomes worse with time, rather than better, you should consider having a podiatrist evaluate the injury.
It apprars you suffered a grade 1 ankle sprain which means the ankle ligament was stretched but not torn. Swelling normally does indicate an injury but if your pain has been minimal then I would not let it worry you. Grade 1 sprains heal fine. I recommend a compression device (ace wrap) on your ankle for one to two weeks after a sprain and implementing the RICE protocol. Thanks for your question and goodluck. If you have additional questions please feel free to call the office.