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Edema of the ankle joint: causes and treatment features


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If you injured your ankle, the first thing you notice is that it is swollen. A swollen ankle can be an unpleasant condition in terms of treatment. Fortunately, there are ways to relieve traumatic edema and speed recovery. By following injuries and taking certain medications, you can prevent the swollen ankle from getting worse. To learn more, start reading step 1.

Pathology Features

If a person has ankle edema, the causes should be clarified first. Only in this case the treatment will be effective. The disease is characterized by the accumulation of a large amount of fluid in the specified joint. However, if it does not appear due to trauma, then a person usually does not have pain.

Basically, ankle edema (its causes can be completely different) does not pose a threat to the health and life of the patient and is more common in older people. However, there are cases when a doctor’s consultation is mandatory. Sometimes the patient may not suspect what caused such a pathological condition.

Why does the disease develop?

If the ankle joints swell, the reasons may be as follows:

  • Injuries: dislocations, sprains or tears of the ligaments, displacement of bones, bruises, wounds or fractures.
  • Varicose veins. In this case, the tone of the venous walls is lost, the pressure in them becomes greater, blood circulation is disturbed.
  • Arthritis. This is an inflammatory pathology of the joints, characterized by swelling and pain.
  • Arthrosis This chronic pathology is accompanied by degeneration of joint tissues.
  • Gout. This disease is very common among men. Its peculiarity is that ankle edema (the causes of its development pose a more serious danger to human health) appears due to the inflammatory process caused by the deposition of uric acid salts in the joints.
  • Bursitis. Here the disease occurs due to the excessive production of synovial fluid, which accumulates in the ankle.
  • Cardiological diseases.
  • Bacterial or viral infection of soft tissues.
  • Excessive body weight.
  • Prolonged standing or too much load on the joint.
  • Taking some hormonal drugs.
  • Blocking the function of the lymphatic system.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver.

The cause of edema and pain in the ankle joint should be determined as accurately as possible. Otherwise, therapy may not have the desired effect.

Why does the ankle swell?

The ankle joint is the joint of the bones of the lower leg with the foot. Its edema is a sign of inflammation, accumulation of synovial fluid in the joint cavity or fluid accumulation in the peripheral tissues of the body. The photo shows how the swelling looks in the ankle.

Ankle edema can occur for local and general reasons. Local diseases include those that directly affect the joint area and surrounding tissues - arthritis, arthrosis, synovitis, bursitis, tendonitis. Common include diseases of the internal organs and connective tissue, which are accompanied by swelling of the ankle region.

Treatment directly depends on the cause that led to the swelling. Medications, physiotherapy are used. In some cases, surgical intervention is indicated.

The most common cause of swelling of the ankle is arthritis. Arthritis is an inflammatory disease of the joints. Arthritis is always manifested by signs of inflammation: edema, redness of the skin, local temperature increase, impaired limb function.

Arthritis can develop for various reasons. The following varieties are distinguished:

  • post-traumatic - occurs after an injury,
  • reactive - occurs as a reaction to an infection,
  • purulent - accompanied by purulent inflammation, the cause is bacteria;
  • rheumatoid - has an autoimmune nature,
  • gouty - develops with gout.

Arthrosis is a degenerative joint disease. The risk of developing osteoarthrosis increases in humans with age. The main symptoms of arthrosis are pain and impaired limb function.

With arthrosis, inflammation is usually absent. This also applies to such signs as redness, local temperature increase. Swelling with arthrosis occurs with the development of complications in the form of reactive synovitis.

Damage to other joint structures

The ankle region can swell with damage to the following structures:

  1. Tendons. With their inflammation, tendonitis develops.
  2. The synovial membrane. With inflammation of the synovial membrane, synovitis develops.
  3. Tendon bag. With inflammation of the bag, bursitis develops.
  4. Ligaments. The defeat of the ligaments occurs when they are stretched or torn.

With any of these diseases, the ankle region can swell.

Other diseases

Swelling of the ankle region can be a manifestation of not only articular pathology. Symptom may indicate a variety of diseases. What pathologies can cause ankle swelling:

  • heart failure,
  • glomerulonephritis, nephrotic syndrome,
  • systemic lupus erythematosus,
  • liver disease
  • Varicose veins.

In addition to edema, other symptoms are also characteristic of each pathology. For example, shortness of breath with heart failure, varicose veins with varicose veins, etc.


Often, edema is just one of the symptoms of the disease. It is necessary to pay attention to other manifestations:

The area of ​​the foot and ankle can hurt due to inflammation, especially with arthritis or synovitis. With pathology of the heart or kidneys, the affected area is painless.

Limb dysfunction

Failure to make active movements indicates arthritis or arthrosis. With other diseases, movements are preserved.

Damage to only the left or right joint often indicates an injury or an inflammatory process. In general diseases, the joints are affected symmetrically.

On palpation, edema can be soft or dense.

For the diagnosis, additional research methods are used:

  1. General blood analysis - allows you to identify signs of inflammation (leukocytosis, increased ESR).
  2. X-ray radiography. Allows you to identify changes in the articular surfaces of bones with arthritis and arthrosis, the effects of trauma.
  3. Dopplerography of the vessels of the legs. It is used to assess the condition of the valves of the veins, identify vascular obstruction.

How to treat edema

Treatment directly depends on the cause that led to the swelling. Medications, physiotherapy are used. In some cases, surgical intervention is indicated. For example, with traumatic injury, deforming arthrosis or arthritis. It is not recommended to self-medicate, the doctor should select the therapy in each individual case.

What to do in case of injury

If ankle edema occurs after receiving an injury, first aid is necessary:

  1. Stop the load on the ankle.
  2. Immobilize (immobilize) the affected limb.
  3. Apply ice or a cold compress to the affected area.

It is contraindicated to warm a limb or use folk remedies immediately after injury. For further treatment, consult a doctor.

Main treatment

The main treatment depends on the cause that led to the swelling:

Inflammatory diseases (arthritis, synovitis, bursitis, tendonitis)

The basis of therapy is the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. They come in general and local action.

General-purpose drugs are available in the form of tablets and ampoules for injection. These include Movalis, Ibuprofen, Nimesil.

Local preparations are available in the form of gels and ointments. For example, Voltaren gel, Diclofenac.

Chondroprotectors - chondroitin and hyaluronic acid are used.

Glucocorticoids are used: prednisone, dexamethasone.

For symptomatic treatment, diuretics are prescribed - Furosemide, Hypothiazide, Spironolactone.

Surgery is often required.

After stopping the acute process, physiotherapy is prescribed - electrophoresis, paraffin therapy, ultraviolet radiation.

Folk remedies

With swelling of the ankle, traditional medicine recommends applying fresh cabbage leaves to the affected area.

In general, alternative recipes for this pathology are rarely used, since they do not have effectiveness.

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Education: Rostov State Medical University, specialty "General Medicine".

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Symptoms of pathology

So, the signs of the disease depend on what reason lies at its basis. However, we can distinguish the following main signs of pathology:

  1. Pain in the affected area.
  2. Redness of the soft tissues surrounding the joint.
  3. Sensation of ripple.
  4. An increase in temperature in the affected joint.
  5. Feeling of fluid presence and fluctuation in the ankle.

First aid to the injured

If the causes of edema of the ankle joint (erythema) are traumatized or too heavy, it is urgent to call a doctor. Prior to his arrival, first aid can be provided to the injured.

First of all, the injured limb should be immobilized, and a cold compress should be put on the ankle. To eliminate pain, you can use the pain medication Voltaren.

In addition to edema, the patient may have other symptoms, in which you should immediately consult a doctor. This should be done if:

  • Swelling increases due to poor functioning of the kidneys or heart.
  • The affected area became warm to the touch.
  • Basal body temperature rose.
  • Swelling abruptly appeared during pregnancy.
  • Any home therapy methods did not help get rid of the pathology, and its manifestations only intensified.

How to get rid of a disease?

The treatment of ankle edema and the causes of its development should be determined by a specialist. Self-diagnosis can only aggravate the patient's condition.

Drug treatment involves the use of such drugs:

  1. Diuretic drugs: Ketasone, Benemid. They help reduce the amount of fluid in the body.
  2. Non-hormonal anti-inflammatory drugs: Ibuprofen. They are prescribed if edema is provoked by arthritis, arthrosis or other pathology that causes inflammation. In addition, a person is recommended to observe bed rest.
  3. Chondroprotectors: Ortroflex, Teraflex.
  4. Local painkillers.
  5. Intra-articular injection of hormonal drugs that can quickly eliminate pain: "Hydrocortisone." They can be used only 1-2 times a year.
  6. Medicines to improve blood circulation in the affected joint.

In the case of inflammatory diseases, it may be necessary to remove purulent contents from the joint, as well as the use of antibiotics. Also, the patient is prescribed therapeutic massage, exercise therapy. However, all exercises and techniques should be performed very carefully so as not to harm even more. In especially difficult cases, the patient is shown surgical intervention.

An important part of therapy is diet, since the patient needs to establish metabolic processes in the body.

Useful Tips

If a person periodically develops ankle swelling, causes, treatment of pathology - this is the information that must be studied in order to be able to fight the disease. Naturally, you also need to know the rules of disease prevention. It is important to follow these recommendations of specialists:

  1. After a long walk, the foot should be allowed to rest. You need to lie down, and put the ankle on a pillow so that it is at a level above the heart.
  2. Refuse sedentary lifestyle. It is advisable to perform simple gymnastics daily, strengthening muscles and ligamentous apparatus.
  3. Reduce the amount of salt consumed, which only retains excess fluid in the body.
  4. It is required to constantly maintain normal body weight.
  5. Choose such underwear and clothing that will fix the ankle and thigh well. However, nothing should squeeze a limb.

That's all the information about such a pathology as swelling of the ankle joint. The reasons for the treatment are now known to you. Be healthy!

What external exposure can cause unpleasant symptoms?

Most often, the joint swells and hurts during an injury, and in most cases this is what leads the person to the hospital. A tumor develops due to such reasons:

  • Dislocation of the ankle. At this point, the right or left joint is displaced due to rupture of the ligamentous apparatus. After a dislocation, the leg swells, an ankle and skin deformity occurs, a strong pain syndrome develops.
  • Fracture of the heel. It can be suspected if the joint swells, a hematoma has formed. The rarest of all possible injuries.
  • Stretching of the ligamentous apparatus. On the legs, swelling appears immediately, which is provoked by hemorrhage. Painful sensations develop immediately and increase with movement.
  • Plantar fasciitis. In this case, the fascia becomes inflamed, i.e., connective tissue, which originates from the calcaneus. The pain is localized in one heel, but sometimes extends to the ankle.
  • External ankle fracture. In this case, both the joint and the ankle hurt and swell. Sometimes manifested by redness at the site of hemorrhage and hematoma.
  • Fracture of both ankles. If the ankle joint sharply swollen or turns blue, and also sharply increased from the outside and inside, the skin burns at the site of damage, then these are signs of a fracture with a subluxation.

Pathologies that provoke swelling

If the ankle joint is swollen, the skin turns red and burns, and other symptoms also appear, this signals the onset of the inflammatory process, which may be the result of pathologies such as:

  • deforming arthrosis,
  • arthritis,
  • gout,
  • osteochondrosis of the lumbosacral
  • heel spur,
  • longitudinal or transverse flat feet,
  • bursitis,
  • synovitis.

Common symptoms of ankle problems

With various pathologies, the symptomatology varies greatly, however, there are general characteristics that will help to orientate and indicate the problem, namely:

  • swelling of the ankle joint,
  • ripple in a damaged place,
  • increase in local temperature,
  • pain, increasing during movement,
  • limitation of mobility.

What diagnostic tests are relevant for swelling?

If unpleasant symptoms appear in the ankle joint, then first of all, you should consult a specialist. Since the causes of redness, swelling, pain and swelling are many, it is impossible to independently identify them. In the office of the therapist or traumatologist, the patient will undergo an initial examination and establish what could affect the development of unpleasant manifestations. After that, such studies will be appointed:

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  • blood and urine tests,
  • Ultrasound of the damaged joint,
  • X-ray image
  • MRI of the damaged area.

Features of drug therapy

After identifying the cause that provoked ankle edema, they begin to carry out complex treatment. To begin with, the patient is prescribed a medical course, which includes:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs. Affect the focus of inflammation and help eliminate unpleasant manifestations. Often use "Diclofenac", "Movalis", "Indomethacin", "Piroxicam".
  • Painkillers. In this case, resort to local remedies that help relieve swelling in the area of ​​the foot joint, penetrating directly into the soft tissues. Most often, Diklak and Fastum gels are used.
  • Means that restore blood flow in the damaged area. Among them are Detralex, Diosmin.
  • Corticosteroid injection. It is possible to treat a swollen ankle with this method in the most difficult cases.

When is swelling a physiotherapy?

To eliminate pain, inflammation, swelling, specialized procedures are additionally prescribed. They are carried out after the elimination of acute symptoms, otherwise such manipulations can cause harm. Joint swelling is eliminated with the help of such physiotherapy as:

  • mud therapy
  • UHF irradiation
  • acupuncture,
  • electrophoresis
  • hydromassage,
  • hydrogen sulfide baths,
  • physiotherapy exercises complex,
  • laser therapy
  • magnetotherapy.

Doing various physiotherapeutic manipulations is possible only as directed by a doctor.

Are folk remedies used for swelling?

Under the influence of heat, blood circulation improves.

Traditional medicine can succeed if the injuries to the leg are minor and did not cause serious complications. In this case, they resort to the help of safe, natural, non-toxic agents that do not provoke side effects. Among the verified recipes are the following:

  • Baths with medicinal herbs. Medicinal plants include chamomile, calendula, a string and many others that are bought with ready-made fees in a pharmacy and brewed in boiling water. After this, the broth is diluted in a basin with warm water, and the damaged ankle is lowered.
  • Garlic ointment. To do this, 5 cloves of garlic are mixed with ground eucalyptus leaves and softened butter. It is allowed to stand in the refrigerator for 4 hours, after which it is applied to the place where the joint was inflamed and the leg was swollen. Withstand 1.5 hours.

Is diet therapy for swelling of the ankle?

Folk remedies are not the only way to affect the state of the body. Another way to help restore the normal functioning of the joint and remove unpleasant manifestations is to adjust your diet. It is recommended to balance it by adding more foods that contribute to the removal of fluid from the body. This list includes berries, natural juices, nonfat varieties of fish, herbs, fermented milk products, porridges cooked on water. It is worth giving up excessively salty foods, spicy, smoked and everything that can hold moisture in the body.

What to do to prevent swelling of the ankle?

To prevent the development of possible pathologies of the ankle, not to spend a lot of money, as well as time for treatment, it is recommended to adhere to such rules:

  • eliminate all inflammatory processes in a timely manner,
  • secure the articulation at the time of playing sports,
  • visit a doctor with related pathologies,
  • reduce body weight
  • balance the daily menu
  • choose high-quality and comfortable shoes.

A tumor on the ankle becomes a serious sign, which manifests itself with a traumatic effect of various types. If the lower extremities are swollen, then this process does not work on its own, therefore it is recommended to seek the advice of a specialist and identify the root cause that triggered the symptom. And if necessary, undergo a therapeutic and rehabilitation course that will help prevent the development of the disease.

Do you still think that it is impossible to cure the joints?

Judging by the fact that you are reading these lines now, a victory in the fight against inflammation of the cartilage tissue is not yet on your side.

And have you already thought about hospital treatment? It is understandable, because joint pain is a very dangerous symptom, which with untimely treatment can result in limited mobility. Suspicious crunch, stiffness after a night's rest, the skin around the problem area is tense, swelling in a sore spot. All these symptoms are familiar to you firsthand.

But is it possible to treat the cause rather than the effect? We recommend reading an article about modern methods of treating joints. Read the article >>