Pathologic fracture

Possible causes of swollen ankles

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Most of us have experienced swollen ankles at some point in life. The swelling or edema have various causes that range from minimal to significant underlying conditions. A doctor should be consulted so that an accurate diagnosis can be given if swollen ankles occur.

Swollen ankles due to injuries

Certain injuries are the common causes for swollen ankles. Trauma to the ankle joints, surrounding tissues and supporting structures can lead to swelling from the build-up of fluid by inflammation. Remember that the swelling is often accompanied by bruising, pain and diminished range of motion.

Extended positioning

Being seated or standing for extended periods of time can lead to swollen ankles as gravity triggers the accumulation of fluid in the lower extremities. Those who have varicose veins or overweight might be more susceptible to swelling after lengthy positioning due to the diminished ability of the veins in the leg to pump fluid back to the heart.

Swollen ankles
Trauma to the ankle joints, surrounding tissues and supporting structures can lead to swelling from the build-up of fluid by inflammation.


There are some medications that can cause swollen ankles. The swelling is common among those who use calcium channel blockers that are commonly prescribed to regulate the blood pressure and heart disease.

Steroids and other hormones such as those used for hormone replacement therapy or birth control as well as some antidepressants can also lead to swelling.


Women who are pregnant usually end up with swollen ankles. Once the uterus grows in size, it compresses on the pelvic organs and blood vessels which disrupts with the normal flow of fluid to the heart.

The abrupt inflammation in the ankles might be an indication of preeclampsia which is a life-threatening condition that triggers symptoms such as headache, high blood pressure, blurry vision and weight gain. Remember that the condition can be life-threatening which is why it is vital to seek immediate medical care.

Medical conditions

Congestive heart failure can cause the build-up of fluid in the lower extremities and other parts of the body. A usual symptom of heart failure is swelling in the ankles. The heart failure develops from the ineffective pumping action of the heart and entails a complete physical examination to determine the exact cause.

Arthritis can affect the ankle and trigger swelling. The inflammation can cause pain, rigidity and swollen ankles that are the main symptoms. The swollen ankles due to arthritis is frequently the consequence of repetitive trauma or having a previous fracture.

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