What causes swollen ankles or legs and how to treat it?

Symptom Database

Swollen ankles and legs can be a common occurrence for many individuals, causing discomfort and concern. This condition, also known as ankle swelling or leg swelling, can have various causes and may require different remedies and treatments. Understanding the causes and knowing how to effectively treat swollen ankles and legs is essential for managing this condition and alleviating symptoms.

Causes of Swollen Ankles and Legs

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of swollen ankles and legs. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Prolonged standing or sitting: Remaining in one position for an extended period can lead to fluid accumulation in the lower extremities.
  • Injury or trauma: Sprains, fractures, or other injuries to the ankle or leg can cause swelling.
  • Pregnancy: Hormonal changes and increased pressure on blood vessels during pregnancy can result in swollen ankles and legs.
  • Obesity: Excess weight can put additional strain on the legs and ankles, leading to swelling.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, and venous insufficiency can cause fluid retention and swelling in the lower extremities.
  • Infections: Infections in the legs or ankles, such as cellulitis, can lead to swelling.

Remedies for Swollen Ankles and Legs

While swollen ankles and legs can be uncomfortable, there are several remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms. Some effective remedies include:

  • Elevating the legs: Raising the legs above heart level can help reduce swelling by allowing excess fluid to drain.
  • Wearing compression stockings: Compression stockings can improve circulation and prevent fluid buildup in the legs and ankles.
  • Applying cold compresses: Cold compresses can help reduce inflammation and swelling.
  • Exercising regularly: Engaging in regular physical activity can improve circulation and prevent fluid retention.
  • Limiting salt intake: Consuming excessive amounts of salt can contribute to fluid retention, so reducing salt intake can help alleviate swelling.

Treatment for Swollen Ankles and Legs

In addition to remedies, there are various treatments available for swollen ankles and legs, depending on the underlying cause. Some common treatments include:

  • Diuretics: If fluid retention is caused by an underlying medical condition, diuretics may be prescribed to help eliminate excess fluid.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can be beneficial for individuals with swollen ankles and legs due to injury or muscle weakness.
  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain associated with swelling.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to address the underlying cause of swollen ankles and legs, such as repairing damaged blood vessels or removing obstructions.

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment for swollen ankles and legs based on the individual’s specific condition and medical history.


Swollen ankles and legs can be caused by various factors, including prolonged sitting or standing, injury, pregnancy, obesity, medical conditions, and infections. Fortunately, there are remedies and treatments available to alleviate the symptoms and address the underlying causes. Elevating the legs, wearing compression stockings, applying cold compresses, exercising regularly, and limiting salt intake are effective remedies for reducing swelling. Treatment options may include diuretics, physical therapy, medications, or surgery, depending on the cause of the swelling. By understanding the causes and implementing appropriate remedies and treatments, individuals can effectively manage swollen ankles and legs and improve their overall well-being.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
Add a comment