Causes of swelling in the left calf & ankle

Written by constance barker | 13/05/2017
Causes of swelling in the left calf & ankle
(Hemera Technologies/ Images)

The ankle, calf and leg swell for numerous reasons, ranging from standing for a long period of time in one place to diseases or injuries. Swelling may occur in one calf and ankle or in both legs. Swelling may be painless or painful depending on how much swelling occurs and the reasons. Treatment for swelling in the ankle and calf depend on the symptoms and diagnosis.

Water Retention

Pregnancy and menstrual periods cause women to retain water. Pregnant women suffer mainly in the latter months of their pregnancy, some to the point where they cannot wear shoes comfortably or stand for even short periods. After birth, the women lose the water retention and the swelling diminishes. When a menstrual period ends, normally the swelling disappears also.

Being overweight may cause swelling in the ankles and calves. Excess weight puts pressure on the legs, causing muscles to work harder and resulting in swelling. A high sodium diet also causes you to retain water. Avoiding sodium and losing weight helps to reduce swelling.

Long airline flights or car rides when you do not stand for hours can result in swelling of the lower legs. Stopping frequently and standing periodically help eliminate the problem.

Illness and Injuries

Diabetes interferes with blood circulation to the lower areas of the legs and may result in swelling. Controlling your diabetes may curb the swollen ankles and calves. A burn or bee sting to the calf or ankle may cause swelling and pain. Swelling may also occur after foot or leg surgery. A blood clot, infection, high blood pressure and varicose veins may all contribute to swelling in the calf and ankle area.


Medications and supplements may cause swelling in the lower legs. Steroids and hormones such as oestrogen can cause water retention and swelling. Anti-depressants and high blood pressure medications such as amlodipine and verapamil can contribute to swelling in the calf and ankles. Elevate your legs above your heart when lying down and exercise regularly to boost blood circulation. Talk to your doctor if swelling persists so he may determine the best course of treatment.

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