A swollen ankle is a common condition in which the ankle becomes inflamed due to an overabundance of fluid in the soft tissues around the ankle. An ankle can also become swollen when the ligaments that keep it in place become overextended. Often resulting in pain and limiting mobility, almost anyone can suffer from a swollen ankle. Common causes of a swollen ankle may include injury, pregnancy, arthritis, and medication.
One of the most common causes of a swollen ankle is a stress injury. An injury is often sports related or can be due to a fall or overuse. When an individual makes a misstep, typically one side of an ankle will become swollen. Such injuries often occur when a person moves the ankle in a way it is not designed or prepared for. The degree of swelling depends on the quantity of tissue that is impaired.
During pregnancy, it is typical for a woman to experience some type of swelling in the ankle. However, severely swollen ankles may be a symptom of a condition called preeclampsia. This condition, affecting an expectant mother sometime around the 20th week of pregnancy, also includes elevated blood pressure, protein in the urine, stomach pain, nausea, and headaches.
Causes of a swollen ankle often include diseases that affect the joints in the ankle. One type of chronic illness is ankle arthritis, which occurs when the area where the ankle bone and shin bone meet deteriorates. Ankle arthritis is often classified as rheumatoid arthritis, as it is caused by an overactive immune system. An individual who is severely overweight or experiences an ankle injury may develop ankle arthritis and also experience redness and warmth around the ankle.
Gout, a form of arthritis, is another frequent reason for puffy ankles. Gout is typically caused by an abnormal amount of uric acid fluid building up in the ankles. Uric acid is generated during digestion to help rid the body of toxins and waste. This type of arthritis is characterized by intense pain, often at night, and affects more men than women.
Medication may also cause swollen ankles. Causes of a swollen ankle may be due to calcium channel blockers, which are taken by people with high blood pressure. Antidepressants, estrogen, and steroids also may cause ankles to swell. Individuals who use a laxative, which is taken to relieve constipation, may experience swollen ankles as well. Swollen ankles may also be result of an infection or poor blood circulation.