Ankle inflammation can have a number of causes, and is characterized by swelling and pain in one or both ankles. A minor injury is one of the most common causes of ankle inflammation, such as an ankle strain due to overexertion during exercise, or from tripping and falling. More serious injuries can also cause swelling and inflammation, such as a break or sprain, but these are typically easier to pinpoint as the cause. Arthritis can also contribute to inflammation, as well as other medical conditions like gout, or restricted blood flow to the area due to vein obstruction or swelling.
Under normal circumstances, the ankles should not be swollen or inflamed, so it is important to pinpoint the cause of inflammation and address it. Frequently, inflammation in the feet and ankles can be caused by overexertion during exercise, particularly following long periods of inactivity, or if an individual is particularly overweight. A slight twist of the ankle can also cause inflammation, even if it does not cause actual injury. It is important to always wear supportive shoes when exercising to prevent inflammation, and to start slowly with a new exercise regime, and build up to greater physical activity.
If the ankle inflammation is not caused by exercise or a minor injury, it could be related to a medical condition such as arthritis or gout. Both of these conditions cause swelling of the joints, which can be very painful and lead to inflammation in both ankles. In some rare cases, an infection can also cause inflammation in the ankles, and it may occur in the soft tissues surrounding the ankle or in the actual joint. Ankle inflammation that occurs for any of these causes will typically require the treatment of a doctor, and will often require medication to resolve the issue and prevent pain.
Vascular issues are another common cause of inflammation, and also require immediate medical treatment. A blood clot, for instance, can cause swelling in the leg or ankles, as well as pain. This type of blood clot is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and if it breaks off, can travel to the heart, lungs, or brain and potentially cause a stroke or even death. Edema can also cause ankle inflammation and is brought on by a number of different factors from excessive salt intake to pregnancy, but one way to tell the difference is that a clot will just be in one leg, while edema will occur in both.