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What to Do for Swollen Ankles

Inflammation in the ankles can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. For this, there are a number of effective home remedies and clinical treatment options..
Narayani Karthik
A swollen ankle can be caused by excessive fluid retention in feet or due to some external injury inflicted. An undetected ankle fracture can also lead to a swollen ankle which can be really painful. Some other major causes for this condition may be due to insect stings and allergic reactions.
Ailments like diabetes, nephritis, and hypertension are also its causes. A pregnant women is more susceptible to this condition if she is having a high blood pressure, due to which excessive fluid gets retained in the ankle, thereby causing a this condition.

Treating Swollen Ankles and Feet

Identify the cause (if any) from the aforementioned ones before opting for the treatment measure. Here are a few tips on the treatment to mitigate the swelling:
  • Avoid sitting on the feet or standing in a particular posture for a long time. Sit in a place and gently move the feet muscles by placing the feet over a small stool.
  • Drink a lot of water but at the same time, avoid laxatives and diuretics as they drain the body of fluids.
  • One should use flat footwear in their limited movements. Avoid wearing any high-heeled footwear which may increase the swelling.
  • Take some ice cubes. Crush them and wrap a cotton cloth around it and apply the cloth at the swollen location for a few minutes. Repeat the procedure again until some relief is felt.
  • Limit the salt intake in the daily diet and consume diets with food containing lots of water (like leafy green vegetables) and fruits.
  • Avoid any kind of hormone replacement therapies and contraceptives when there is a swelling in the ankle. If it is caused due to some medical ailment, contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies can lead to further complications.
  • One can use ankle wraps such as crepe bandage to reduce the swelling in the ankle. These wraps reduce the discomfort felt by the swollen ankle by cushioning the foot when walking. Ankle braces may be used for severe swellings.
In cases of excruciating pain due to swollen ankles and feet, doctors may suggest anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections, and analgesics to reduce the swelling.

Remedies for Swollen Ankles During Pregnancy

Swollen ankles during pregnancy is not an abnormal condition. This is usually caused because a woman's body undergoes a lot of hormonal changes during this period. The uterus grows in size and pressurizes the pelvic veins which can lead to a slow blood flow rate from legs to the heart. 
Due to this, there is a fluid shift and excess fluid gets retained in the legs, feet, and ankles. Here are some tips for pregnant women:
  • Pregnant ladies are advised to give light exercises to their feet, like rotating ankles. When sitting, it is better to sit with feet up and when lying down, better to keep the legs elevated. Standing or sitting on feet or sitting with crossed feet is strictly advised against.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes or jewelry. Instead wear loose-fitting clothes which help the body to be free of any constraints.
  • When sleeping, remember to keep the pillows below the legs. Or sleep with legs kept in an elevated position.
  • Summers can give a hard time to pregnant ladies. And the atmospheric heat can further aggravate this condition. So, apply ice packs more often to the swollen area.
  • Bathing in lukewarm water with Epsom salt is one of the best therapeutic baths for a pregnant lady. Also, massaging swollen ankles with essential oils will help in reducing the swelling.
  • Physical activity is a must for pregnant women. Pregnancy exercises like daily walks, yoga, or a few swim laps can help the woman maintain the right fluid balance in the body.
If the swelling persists and is causing additional symptoms like puffiness on the face and around the eyes during pregnancy, it might indicate a possibility of preeclampsia (high blood pressure and detection of protein in urine). In such cases, immediate medical attention must be sought.

Foods that Help Reduce Swelling

Eat a lot of juicy fruits and leafy green vegetables that contain sufficient potassium content. Banana is the best choice when it comes to swollen ankles. It is because bananas have a high potassium content which reduces unwanted fluid retention and regulates the salt levels in the body. 
Tomatoes and spinach are vegetables which are packed with potassium. Limit the intake of salt in the daily diet, as salt is one of the major causes for fluid retention in the body.
Any minor swelling in any part of the body is a clear indication that something is not right. An ankle swelling can be caused by a sprain, or a stress fracture, or a prolonged ailment.
Do not ignore painful symptoms like ankle pain when walking. If the swelling subsides within a couple of days, then there is absolutely nothing to worry about. However, if it persists, it is better to visit a doctor at the earliest.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.