Swollen ankles result from abnormal fluid build-up in the body that travels downward. Several benign conditions can lead to swollen ankles such as pregnancy or simply being on your feet for too long. However, swelling in the lower legs can also be associated with more serious conditions, warns the National Institute of Health, including congestive heart failure, liver disease, blood clots or lymphatic obstruction. If you have spoken with your doctor and have determined that your swollen ankles are not a sign of something more serious, there are several steps you can take to alleviate your discomfort.
Lie down and elevate your legs. Place a pillow under your legs and recline so that your legs are higher than your heart. This allows the blood to redistribute throughout your body.
Exercise regularly. During exercise your heart pumps blood at a faster rate throughout your body, redistributing any excess fluid located in your ankles.
Wear support stockings. Also known as circulation stockings, they are available at most chemists and prevent blood and fluid build-up in your feet with specialised bands designed to promote circulation.
Reduce your sodium intake. Sodium promotes fluid retention that can lead to excess fluid build-up around your ankles when you walk or stand
Keep a journal of when your ankles swell. Note activities and food intake associated with the episode of swelling. This will help you tease out what factors may be contributing to your condition.
If your legs remain swollen or become painful it is important to see your doctor immediately. It could be the sign a life-threatening disease.