How to treat swollen ankles

Updated April 17, 2017

There are many causes of swollen ankles, from sprains and joint disorders to oedema. Often times, swollen ankles are uncomfortable and painful. First, try to find out the cause of the swelling so you will have an idea of the extent of treatment you are going to take. This will help you properly care for your swollen ankles. You can take certain simple measures at home to relieve pain and swelling.

Reduce swelling by elevating your leg above the level of your heart. This can be done with a reclining chair foot rest or a pillow beneath the legs when sleeping. This process aids in blood circulation and allows the swelling to subside. During the day, be sure to use ice around the area because ice helps to reduce swelling. Let your ankles rest by not doing too much walking.

Wear comfortable shoes. For the meantime, wear shoes that will help relieve the pain or swelling until it goes away. There are specialised shoes that are made for those with ankle or foot problems, and these are usually well-cushioned, ventilated products that will help your ankle feel more comfortable. You can also wear socks for added cushion and protection from dirt and further infection.

Exercise your ankles gently. This will assist in circulation and muscle activity. Exercise includes gently rotating your foot, flexing, tapping and massaging. Rest your leg on a bed and hold your foot near your toes. In a circular motion, gently rotate your foot. If this is too painful, you can instead flex your leg a couple of times. Also, try to rest your ankles as well, and not put too much strain by standing for lengthy periods of time. When stretching your ankles, assist them with your hands as to not overstretch and cause further injuries.

Use ankle wraps. These wraps act not only as support to your ankle, but also as a way to lightly compress the area and reduce the swelling. Ankle wraps may also help further cushion your foot and ankle while walking. For more serious ankle problems, ankle braces are also available.

Get an x-ray from your local clinic. Home treatment of swollen ankles is usually for minor ankle problems that will usually go away in a couple of days or weeks. If the swelling cannot be reduced by the remedies above, it may be something serious that only a doctor may treat. It may be a fracture, or a symptom related to a more complicated disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Foot rest and pillows
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Ice
  • Ankle wrap
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