How can I Reduce Ankle Swelling?

Anna T.

You can effectively reduce ankle swelling, but the best treatment will likely depend on what caused the swelling to start with. Ankles that are swollen due to injuries are often treated differently than ankles that are swollen because of certain medical problems or as a side effect of taking prescription medicines. If your ankle is swollen because it is sprained or you have a broken bone, using heat or ice on the injury might help with the swelling. Support stockings or water pills may reduce ankle swelling if you have some medical problem that caused the swelling. Elevating your feet to a level above your heart may also help you reduce the swelling in your ankles no matter what it resulted from.

Ice can help reduce swelling right after an ankle injury.
Ice can help reduce swelling right after an ankle injury.

Sprained or broken ankles often require immediate medical treatment, but you can attempt to reduce ankle swelling immediately following such an injury. The application of either heat or ice can reduce swelling and inflammation. If you are using ice, be sure to cover your ankle with either a towel or gauze before applying the ice directly to the injury. Prolonged direct contact of ice to skin is not typically recommended because of the danger of frostbite. You could also use a heating pad on your injured ankle while keeping it elevated.

Elevating the ankle may help reduce swelling following an injury.
Elevating the ankle may help reduce swelling following an injury.

Pregnancy, diabetes, and other health conditions might occasionally cause ankle swelling. Doctors often advise patients who suffer from swollen ankles to limit the amount of salt they consume, because salt causes the body to retain water, which increases the likelihood of swelling. There are also support socks and stockings designed specifically to reduce swelling in the lower extremities. These stockings are very tight-fitting, and they can constrict veins in the legs and feet, helping to reduce ankle swelling. Water pills might also help reduce the swelling in your ankles because they could cause you to flush out the excess fluid your body is holding onto, but you shouldn't take these if you are pregnant.

Don't hesitate to see your doctor if you do not know what is causing your ankle swelling and you are not aware of having injured yourself. You might have a serious medical problem that requires immediate attention, particularly if the swelling comes about suddenly and you are not pregnant or aware of any other health condition you have that causes swelling. Your doctor should be able to determine the cause of your ankle swelling and recommend appropriate treatment.

A heating pad can be applied to a swollen ankle.
A heating pad can be applied to a swollen ankle.

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Discussion Comments


Bandaging the ankles or wearing stockings sound like it would prevent blood flow and cause pain. But apparently wrapping it tightly or wearing tight socks really does help because it causes the excess water to flow out of that area. Of course, the bandage is not supposed to be too tight and I think we are supposed to take it off at night. I have ankle swelling once in a while. I'm definitely going to do this next time it happens. Thanks for the tips!


My sister just had a baby girl. While she was pregnant she had a lot of foot and ankle swelling. It was painful for her to stand up or walk around too much. She heard from somewhere that drinking barley juice helps with swelling during pregnancy.

I think you are supposed to soak some barley in water and just drink it. My sister said its good, it might be worth a try.

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