Why Are My Ankles Swelling? The Most Common Causes and How to Treat Them

If your ankles have been swelling more than usual lately, you are not alone. Swelling in the lower legs and ankles is a common problem, and most often this is due to venous insufficiency. Here we will go over venous insufficiency, other common causes of swelling in the lower legs, and what you can do to treat this condition.

Common Causes of Swollen Ankles

Here are some of the most common reasons why your ankles might be swollen:

  • Injury: If you recently injured your lower leg (for example, if you sprained or twisted your ankle), swelling is a common side effect. Visit your doctor for an assessment. Ankle swelling due to injury is usually temporary and should subside as you heal.
  • Lifestyle/Diet: Certain lifestyle choices can make you more vulnerable to swelling in the lower legs. For example, eating a high-salt diet causes your body to retain water, which can lead to swelling. Lack of exercise as well as long periods of sitting or standing can also cause swollen ankles.
  • Excess Body Weight: Obesity can contribute to fluid retention and swelling in the lower legs.
  • Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, you may experience swollen ankles due to the extra fluid in your body. This is normal and will usually resolve after you give birth.
  • Venous Insufficiency: This is the most common cause of swelling in the lower legs. With venous insufficiency, the veins in your legs are not able to efficiently direct blood flow back to the heart, which leads to a buildup of fluid in the lower legs and ankles.

Identifying the Cause of Your Swollen Ankles

If you have swollen ankles, especially as a chronic problem and not related to injury or pregnancy, the most probable cause is venous insufficiency. The best way to receive a proper diagnosis for this is to meet with a vein specialist. They will ask about your medical history, perform a physical examination, and possibly order tests to further evaluate your condition. Once diagnosed, your vein specialist will recommend appropriate treatment to reduce leg swelling and promote healthy circulation.

Managing Venous Insufficiency

Managing venous insufficiency can significantly reduce swelling in the lower legs and ankles. A combination of lifestyle factors and vein treatments can be employed to provide symptom relief.

Conservative and At-Home Treatment Options

There are a few things you can do to help manage venous insufficiency and reduce swelling on your own. These include:

  • Leg Elevation: To improve blood flow in your legs, periodically elevate your legs above the level of your heart. This is especially helpful if you spend the whole workday sitting or standing. 
  • Exercise and Weight Loss: Weight management and combining exercise with a healthy diet can significantly reduce ankle swelling.
  • Reducing Salt Intake: Salt causes fluid retention, which can have a compounding effect with venous insufficiency. Reducing your salt intake can minimize fluid accumulation in your lower legs.

Your vein specialist may also recommend the following treatments:

  • Leg Compression: Compression stockings are usually very effective in minimizing leg swelling due to venous insufficiency. When worn, the compression reduces pooling of excess fluids in the legs and helps prevent ankle swelling and other associated symptoms. Our vein specialists can help you get good leg compression stockings for your needs. 
  • Medications: Medications to prevent blood clots may be prescribed for individuals with ankle swelling caused by deep vein thrombosis. 

Vein Treatments for Swollen Ankles

Vein treatments may be necessary to treat chronic swollen ankles and other symptoms of venous insufficiency. These include:

  • Sclerotherapy: Spider veins and varicose veins that are causing ankle swelling can be disabled with sclerotherapy.
  • Endovenous Laser Ablation Treatment (EVLA): Problematic veins that cause swollen ankles can be closed using laser treatment.
  • Surgery: Surgical treatment is reserved for severe leg swelling. Options include ambulatory phlebectomy, ligation, stripping, and vein bypass. For most people with venous insufficiency, surgery is not necessary.

If you have chronic swollen ankles, schedule an appointment at Vein Specialists of Augusta. We can evaluate your condition and offer therapeutic vein care to manage your symptoms and restore healthy circulation in your legs.

Call (706) 854-8340 or contact us online to book an appointment with Dr. Sherman today.

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