Are you struggling hard to cope with swollen ankles? Know this, you are not alone! Almost everyone suffered from swollen ankles at some point of time for different reasons. Known as Foot Edema, this condition is characterized by accumulation of fluids in the ankle and feet. Swollen ankle is not a disorder or a disease. It is a warning sign or a symptom of an underlying health condition.
Common Causes of Swollen Ankles
Swollen ankles are common during pregnancy and menstruation. Sometimes, the swelling subsides on its own without any medical treatment. However, it creates a lot of discomfort and affects mobility to a certain extent. In a majority of cases, swelling of the ankles can be reduced with simple home remedies. Before looking into the home remedies for swollen ankles, look at the possible causes of swollen ankles.
Some of the major causes of swollen ankles include the following (but not limited to these only):
- High blood pressure – leads to water and fluid retention
- Pregnancy and menstruation
- Inactivity for a long time or sedentary lifestyle
- Blood clot in the leg
- Long-haul flight
- Aging (wear and tear of muscles and poor blood circulation towards feet)
- Too much physical activity (suddenly you start exercising or walking)
- Generalized edema – like when you suffer from typical fluid retention
- Any injury to the feet or leg
- Side effects of certain medications
- Hypothyroidism, etc.
Alarmingly, swollen ankle is a sign of kidney malfunction too, when your body is unable to expel the fluids. Also, heart and liver malfunction leads to swollen ankles.
How to Get rid of Swollen Ankles
There are many effective home remedies you can try to reduce the swelling in ankles. These home remedies for swollen ankles also reduces pain and improves the mobility.
Quick Remedies to Reduce the Swelling of Ankles
Following are some of the simple home remedies that can provide you relief from swelling and pain. Some of you may also find complete recovery from the swelling feet with these remedies.
When it comes to swelling, the first home remedy that comes handy is ice bath or massage with ice cubes. Ice therapy constricts the blood vessels and reduces swelling of ankles.
- Just wrap a few ice cubes in a piece of cloth and apply on the swollen part.
- Do it for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Alternatively, give an ice bath to the foot.
- Add few ice cubes in a tub and soak your feet in the cold water. Don’t do it for more than couple of minutes at a time.
Elevate your legs
Keep your legs elevated when you notice your swollen ankles. Place your legs at a higher level, like a foot pillow while you lie down. Make sure that they are perpendicular to or above the level of your heart. Elevating your legs reduces blood flow towards legs and prevents swelling. Do this for 20 to 30 minutes, three times a day. You can find a lot of relief due to this. Similarly, when you sit for a longer time, place your feet over a raised platform like a stool or a chair.
- Place 1 or more pillows beneath your feet when you sleep or lie down to relax
- Keep your feet elevated while sitting by resting them on a stool or a chair
Raising your legs prevents fluid retention in the ankles and feet.
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Reduce your mobility, rest your ankles
To avoid further damage to the ankles and foot, reduce your mobility. As mentioned earlier, sometimes, heavy work or over exercising may also lead to swollen ankles. When you get sufficient rest, the swelling may subside on its own and you will find relief from discomfort and pain.
Move your foot
This may sound contradictory to the previous remedy which tells you not to move legs. In fact, this has to be done when your swollen ankles are a result of long time sitting like when you travel for a long time in a bus or a flight.
Sitting for several hours makes the feet inactive and accumulates fluids there. It affects the blood circulation and causes swelling as well as pain.
If you sit for long hours before the computer or become a couch potato, your feet need to be moved to get rid of all the fluid that gets accumulated there and also to correct the blood circulation which gets hampered due to non movement.
- Take a short walk for 10 minutes for every 1 to 2 hours of sitting
- Walk for 15 minutes, three to four times a day. It is sufficient to keep your ankles and feet happy and healthy.
Warm foot soak
Swollen ankles can be an outcome of a long drive or a long haul flight. Those who often go for a tour or a vacation, return back home with a bunch of memories as well as swollen ankles. However, in most cases, you don’t need any specific remedy to get rid of swollen ankles when it is caused by a long journey. The ankle swelling will relieve on its own, in a couple of days. You can still give a warm foot soak to ease away the discomfort.
Immersing your feet in a tub of warm water is an effective way to relax after a long day as well as to get rid of swollen ankles and swollen feet.
- Fill a tub with warm water
- Soak your feet in this
- For making it more effective, add 1-2 tsp of salt to it
Wear Compression Socks
This remedy is for preventing swollen ankles. Wear compression socks during long journey to prevent blood pooling in your legs. If you are one of those who often suffer from swollen ankle or feet after a travel, just use compression socks.
Doing nothing and overdoing harms the feet and ankles!
Massage the feet and ankles
To make it even better, ask someone to massage your feet. Massaging is quite a relaxing therapy. It reduces pain, swelling and improves blood circulation. Massage the foot gently using mild pressure. Don’t add pressure on the tender areas. Always massage towards the direction of heart (from downwards to upwards).
- Press the joints of the toes to stimulate the muscles and nerves.
- Massage the bottom of the foot.
- Massage the legs from feet towards knees.
If your leg is dry, you can apply some oil before massaging. Regardless of the cause of the swollen ankle, massaging reduces pain and inflammation to some extent. However, if your swollen ankle is due to some injury, avoid massaging it and get it checked by a physician to rule out dislocation of bones, fracture or damage to muscles and tendons.
Drink a lots of water
Almost everyone is guilty of not drinking enough water. Muscles and tissues need water for optimal functioning. Dehydration or lack of water content in the body leads to water retention. This retention can be at the site of your feet and ankles too. Drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day keeps your body hydrated.
When you do strenuous work or workout for longer and in hot and humid weather, increase your intake of water.
Enjoy the bliss of Epsom salt bath
Epsom salt is one of the miraculous ingredients that reduce pain, tiredness, muscle weakness, etc. Just add a handful of Epsom salt to hot or warm water (as you prefer) and soak your feet. You can indulge in and enjoy the Epsom salt bath by soaking yourself in the bath tub. It reduces pain by drawing out the toxins and reduces swelling by eliminating fluid retention. It also enhances blood circulation. As an added benefit, it soothes and rejuvenates the sore muscles. You will feel nourished, relaxed and fresh after taking Epsom salt bath. Be assured that your swollen ankle and tired feet will appreciate the Epsom salt bath.
- Add a handful of Epsom salt in a tub filled with warm water.
- Soak your feet in this water for 15-20 minutes.
You can add a few drops of fresh lemon or any choice of essential oil to make it a more refreshing experience.
Poultices and Wraps for Swollen Ankles
Every home has some wonderful natural ingredients to reduce inflammation of the ankles. These ingredients are used regularly for cooking. Save a few bits and pieces for your swollen ankle and create poultice or wrap to get rid of the tenderness of the ankle.
Cucumber is popularly used to reduce swelling of face and under eye bags. You can try the vegetable to reduce minor swelling or swelling caused due to mild sprains in the ankles. Cucumber not only reduces the swelling but also reduces the recovery time.
- Slice a cucumber and place it on the swollen area.
- Wrap the foot with thin cloth and secure it with a clip to seal the wrap.
Cabbage Leaves Wrap
Cabbage is one of the lesser known ingredients having anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage is a nutrient-rich vegetable, which can bring down the pain and swelling in no time.
- Wash the cabbage leaves and place it in the freezer for a few minutes. (Cold cabbage leaves are more effective)
- Place the cabbage leave on the swollen part and wrap it with a thin cloth or seal it with a tape.
- Keep the leg elevated and let it stay for 30 minutes.
- Do this twice or thrice a day.
Other Home Remedies for Swollen Ankles
Castor Oil for Swollen Ankle
Castor oil has been used for ages to heal the sprains in legs and hands. It is the most promising remedy for ankle sprain and inflammation. If your swollen ankle is caused due to a sprain, look no further. Castor oil is a Triglyceride having fatty acid. It contains high concentration of ricinoleic acid, which is a powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory element. You can simply apply castor oil to your swollen ankle or create a poultice, as mentioned below.
Things you need:
- 5 tablespoons of castor oil
- Pan to heat the oil
- A bowl
- A thin piece of clean cloth
- A clip or tape
- A bottle filled with hot water
How to make it:
- Heat around 5 tablespoons of castor oil in a pan.
- Transfer the warm oil into a clean bowl.
- Dip a thin piece of clean cloth in the oil.
- Place the cloth on the swollen ankle. (The cloth should be lengthy enough to encircle the leg to cling it)
- Cover the oiled cloth with a thin piece of cloth.
- Use a clip or tape to seal the cloth to stay put.
- Place a hot water bottle near the ankle.
- The heat from water is absorbed by the cloth and the oil permeates into the skin.
- It heals the sprain, reduce pain and swelling of ankle.
Coconut Oil wrap for swollen ankle
Similar to castor oil, Coconut Oil also contains medium chain fatty acids and has amazing healing properties. So, if you don’t have castor oil handy, just use coconut oil and follow the steps mentioned above for making castor oil poultice. Instead of heating coconut oil, just warm it.
Coconut oil is light and castor oil is very dense. Coconut oil is easily absorbed into the skin. So, don’t heat the coconut oil and just make it warm.
Onions for swollen ankle
Onion poultice or wrap is not a popular remedy, yet very effective in reducing the ankle swelling, sprain and tenderness. Onions are known for its ability to draw out toxins from the body. Onions also contain anti-inflammatory properties. Onion wrap helps in reducing the swelling and extracts the toxins accumulated in your ankle area.
Things you need:
- A big onion- Shredded or made into a paste
- Sea salt or crystal salt – 2 – 3 teaspoons
- A thin piece of cloth
How to make it:
- Mix the onion paste and sea salt.
- Spread the mixture onto the cloth and fold it.
- Wrap the cloth around the ankle and cover it with a towel.
- Make sure that the onion poultice remains intact.
- Let it stay for a couple of hours and then remove it.
- Wash the leg with warm water.
You will notice the reduction in inflammation and find relief from discomfort.
Home remedies for swollen ankles in pregnant women
One of the major complaints of the pregnant women is swollen ankles and swollen feet. Due to circulatory problems and hormonal disturbances, this issue is sometimes unavoidable. However, it can be managed easily. Following are some of the tips and home remedies to manage the swollen ankles during pregnancy.
This is the primary home remedy followed for ages to reduce swelling in the ankle and feet. Barley is a natural diuretic and draws out the accumulated fluids from the body.
- Add 3 to 4 teaspoons of barley in two glasses of water.
- Let it boil for 10 to 20 minutes (keep the vessel closed with a lid)
- Filter the water and drink it warm.
- In less than a couple of hours, you can find immense relief from pain and swelling.
This is a safe home remedy for swollen ankles in pregnant women. However, consult with your doctor before trying any home remedy during pregnancy. Others can also have barley water it to get rid of swelling in ankles.
Other Tips for Swollen Ankles during Pregnancy
- Avoid eating foods high on salt. Too much salt leads to accumulation of fluids
- Eat a lot of fresh foods to get all essential nutrients. Deficiency of magnesium also causes swollen ankle. Have coconut water, bananas and other fruits.
- Drink a lots of water to keep the body hydrated.
- Get a foot soak by placing the legs in warm water for 15 minutes a day.
- Take a bath in warm water and if possible take an Epsom salt bath, once a week.
- You can try the topical remedies like ice massage or cabbage wrap to reduce the discomfort.
Home remedies for swollen ankles in elders
Aging weakens the muscles and ligaments, which leads to poor circulation and swelling of ankles and legs. By incorporating a few changes in diet and lifestyle, the swelling and pain can be reduced to a great extent.
- Reduce consumption of coffee and other caffeinated drinks
- Go for a low-sodium diet. This means reducing consumption of salt and salty foods.
- Eat two or three pods of raw garlic (or dry roasted garlic) every day on an empty stomach to reduce foot edema.
- Walk for 20 to 30 minutes daily. Walking is the best remedy for swollen ankle. It improves blood circulation and reduces swelling.
- Say no to smoking and reduce alcohol consumption.
- Wrap your legs with a cloth or use an ankle brace to wear at night. This prevents aggravation of the swelling.
- Check with your doctor and if required get magnesium supplements.
Swollen ankle can be cured with ease in many cases. However, understanding the actual cause of the condition helps in chalking out the proper treatment. Since swollen ankle is a symptom of some life-threatening conditions, it is recommended to consult with a physician if the swelling in ankles persists or reappear often. Also, it is advised not to consume diuretics if you have a history of kidney problems.