10 Ways to Get Rid of Swollen Ankles

10 Ways to Get Rid of Swollen Ankles

Are you noticing swelling around your ankles?  Has it lasted for several days, or has it come and gone?

While it may not be painful, it can still cause discomfort in the ankles and feet.Swollen ankles photograph

Swollen ankles can be the result of a foot or ankle injury. In that case, you should follow your doctor’s orders in treating the underlying injury. Often ice and staying off the ankle will aid in its healing.

Ankle injuries are common injuries in sports due to the frequent cutting, jumping, and sudden changes in direction involved in sports. Sprained ankle recovery typically involves a combination of rest, protection, rehabilitation exercises, and time. Physical therapy may be beneficial to guide you through these exercises safely.

However, you may experience swollen ankles and not have experienced a foot or ankle injury. There can be several causes for swollen ankles.

These can include:

  • Staying on your feet too long
  • Ill-fitting shoes
  • Pregnancy
  • Lifestyle (inactivity, being overweight, poor diet)
  • Certain medical conditions (heart, liver, kidney, or circulatory disease)

Swollen ankles are caused by the building up of fluid in the tissue in the ankles. This condition is called edema and often will resolve itself. This can become a chronic condition or may happen in certain situations.

Sometimes, you may need to consult an ankle surgeon for long-lasting swelling. If you experience chronic ankle swelling, you should consult a doctor, as it may be part of other underlying health conditions.

Luckily, there are some things you can do to get rid of swollen ankles. These home remedies can often relieve swelling and inflammation without visiting a foot specialist.

Stay Hydrated

While this may seem counterintuitive due to the cause of swollen ankles being the build-up of fluid, this is a misconception. Dehydration causes the body to hang on to moisture more, causing this fluid build-up. Your body tries to hang on to any moisture it may have, but by drinking plenty of water, you can refill your tank.

You should drink about 8-10 glasses of water daily. You can invest in a lovely portable water jug or bottle to help you when on the go or at work. Staying hydrated has numerous health benefits, such as improved liver and kidney functions and lowing water retention.

woman in black tank top drinking water
Photo by engin akyurt

There are some health conditions where too much water can be harmful. Excessive water consumption can worsen conditions such as congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema. You should consult your doctor to understand your target water consumption.

Change Up Your Diet

Swollen ankles can be linked to a lack of specific vitamins and minerals in your diet. Poor dietary habits can have many negative health benefits, leading to fluid retention and swollen ankles.

Potassium helps the body in balancing fluids and electrolytes in your body. This, in turn, regulates water retention in the body. A potassium deficiency can lead to chronically swollen ankles and cramps in the calves and legs.

Adding potassium-rich foods such as bananas, avocados, dry fruits, leafy greens, and beans can help regulate your fluid retention. Making a healthy smoothie or salad will not only help you if you are dealing with weight issues but will ease the fluid build-up in your ankles.

Swollen ankles can also signify a magnesium deficiency, another mineral that helps reduce water retention. Adding magnesium-rich food like nuts and seeds, legumes, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, greens, and dark chocolate can help reduce the swelling in your ankles.

If you have kidney or heart issues, it should be noted that it is advised to lower the potassium in your diet. You should consult with your doctor before making changes to your diet. Your doctor may also prescribe supplements you can take.

Lowering your sodium intake can also have benefits in reducing your swollen ankles. Salt causes dehydration, which can lead to fluid retention. Avoiding foods high in sodium, such as canned foods, prepackaged meals, and fast food, can help reduce your sodium and relieve swollen ankles. While salt can be a great seasoning, consider salt alternatives such as dried herbs.

Lemon water has been shown to help in reducing fluid retention as well. Lemon juice is a great detoxifier, and a few glasses of lemon water daily can help clear your systems of excess fluid.

Dandelion tea is a known diuretic and can help flush out toxins and excess fluid from the body. Fresh dandelion tea is more effective than the dried, store-bought version. Just make sure your source does not use weed killer or any chemicals.

Be More Active

A sedentary lifestyle has many health risks. Not only does it increase your chance of gaining weight, but it also can cause circulatory issues. Poor circulation causes fluid to pool at different body parts and can lead to swollen ankles.

Try to move around some every hour. Whether it is just flexing your knees and ankles while you work, it will help to encourage circulation. Take a quick walk to the break room, leave the office for lunch, or just sit around the office to get the blood circulating.

Try to give yourself an hour a day to exercise. This could be a solid hour-long workout or smaller sessions throughout the day. Losing a few pounds will put less stress on your ankle and provide more health benefits.

Exercise that helps improve the circulation and movement of the lower extremities will help reduce fluid build-up. Walking, jogging, and running help to activate the calf muscles. Swimming is a great low-impact activity if you need something more low-impact and have access to a pool.

Inversion yoga is also an exercise that can help to improve circulation and reduce swelling in the body. Simply lay on the floor with your lower back supported with a cushion to perform this. Then, with the support of a wall or chair, raise your legs perpendicular to your lower body. Try to hold the pose for 10-20 minutes to see almost immediate relief in the ankles. However, this technique may not suit those with high blood pressure, so consult your doctor first.

Elevate Your Feet

Foot elevation can help in accumulated fluid draining back out of your feet. You can sleep with a pillow under your feet or elevate your feet above your heart when reclining.  Try to elevate your feet several times a day on an ottoman, even if it is only 20 minutes at a time.

If you work at a desk or are on your feet a lot, there are a few things you can do to aid in elevating your feet when you cannot work with them elevated. Take breaks where your legs are parallel to the ground and rotate your ankles gently. Doing this can help to relieve the build-up of fluid and increase circulation. Various yoga poses that can be done in a few minutes can help to encourage circulation.

Invest in Compression Socks

Compression socks can help reduce swelling in the ankles and aid in circulation in the lower legs and feet. They are reasonably affordable and can be found at any drugstore.

Compression socks provide a gentle squeeze on your legs that promote circulation. This helps prevent fluid from building up in your feet and ankles and reduces leg pain.

Start with a compression sock that is 12-15 mm or 15-20mm of mercury. Compression socks come in various thicknesses, so it is best to start with a lighter sock and work your way up to find the most comfortable size for you. Start wearing them in the morning and wear them as long as they remain comfortable.

Sleeping on Your Side

Sleeping on your left side can help reduce the pressure on the veins that move blood from the bottom of your body and return it to your heart.

Maintaining proper circulation is essential for maintaining good health. Poor circulation can cause you to wake up with swollen ankles or hands.

Soaking with Epsom Salts

Many people swear by the therapeutic benefits of soaking their feet and ankles in Epsom salts  (magnesium sulfate). A 15-20 minute soak in a tub of Epsom Salts and water may help reduce swelling and drain toxins.

While there is not much medical science to promote the benefits of Epsom salts, many people swear by them. Many doctors recommend them as they are easy to use, are low cost to the patients, and are low risk.

Making a foot bath is a quick and straightforward process. Just take a cup of Epsom salt to a small tub of warm water. Then immerse your feet and let them soak for 20-30 minutes. Doing this once a day can significantly reduce swelling.

Just make sure you find Epsom salts marked with the USP designation. This ensures that it meets the U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards and is safe for use. Also, make sure to use plain Epsom salts, as scented salts can cause skin irritation.

Avoiding Alcohol

Alcohol causes dehydration, so you may experience some swelling after a night of drinking. Usually, rehydrating will take care of the condition. However, if you notice the swelling lasts for 2-3 days after consuming alcohol, you should consult a doctor.

If you notice swelling after consuming alcohol, you need to consult a doctor. This can indicate an underlying issue, including liver, kidney, or heart disease.

Get a Foot Massage

Massage has many health benefits. It can promote circulation as well as overall relaxation. Massage, or have someone else massage the bottoms of your feet towards your heart in a circular motion. Using firm strokes and some pressure will promote fluid movement in the foot and ankle and reduce swelling.

Leg massages can also help in lymphatic drainage in the legs. Rubbing from the calf to the ankle in an up-and-down motion for ten minutes can help relieve tension and fluid retention. You can do this yourself or have someone else do it for you.

Start a Weight Loss Plan

Being overweight can be one of the most significant contributing factors to issues with the feet and ankles. Too much strain due to extra weight can cause circulation issues cause the build-up of fluid in the ankles. This can make moving around painful and lead to a more sedentary lifestyle.

Weight loss may help in reducing the strain on your feet and ankles. A healthy diet and exercise can help you to shed extra pounds and make you feel better.

You should consult with your doctor to see if a weight loss plan can help ease your ankle pain. They can help you come up with healthy and safe methods to lose weight.

When to See A Doctor for Swollen Ankles

These tips are some excellent ways to treat your swollen ankles yourself. These treatments are successful and will keep you from needing to see a foot doctor in most cases.

However, there are some cases where visiting an ankle surgeon is necessary. The swelling could be a symptom of a more severe condition, and further treatment may be needed.

Signs that you need to call a doctor about your swollen ankles include:

  • Leg ulcerations
  • Blisters
  • Increased pain
  • Redness
  • Drainage

Also, pay attention to your feet. Shoes that become too tight due to swelling can cause wounds to the feet and can cause further issues.

If you are experiencing pain on only one side of your body, seek medical attention immediately. You may be suffering from deep vein thrombosis.

If you are pregnant, you should consult your doctor before taking any supplements or increasing any activity. Some of the remedies can be a health or safety risk to you or your baby while you are pregnant.

While swollen ankles do not always need the attention of an ankle surgeon, there are some instances where professional medical attention may be required. Consulting an experienced foot and ankle surgeon will help diagnose the severity of your swollen ankles and get you back on your feet in no time.

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