23 Causes of Ankle Swelling & Home Treatment

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Discover the most common causes of ankle pain and effective natural remedies in this comprehensive guide. From Achilles tendinopathy to plantar fasciitis, learn how to alleviate discomfort and regain mobility naturally.

Ankle pain can have multiple causes and each case is very different.
However, there are some tricks that can relieve pain and help you regain some mobility.

And it may not be worth rushing painkillers to put an end to discomfort.
Don’t discount the potential side effects of anti-inflammatory substances, especially when taken long-term.

Here’s why in this article you’ll find the most common causes of ankle pain and some natural ways to fight the pain effectively.


What causes ankle pain and swelling without injury

Ankle pain can arise from a multitude of conditions and injuries, each with its own distinct causes and symptoms.

1- Achilles tendinopathy

Achilles tendinopathy refers to degeneration or inflammation of the Achilles tendon, often resulting from overuse, excessive strain, or biomechanical imbalances.
It leads to pain, stiffness, and swelling in the back of the ankle, particularly during activities like running or jumping.

2- Tibialis posterior dysfunction

Tibialis posterior dysfunction involves damage or inflammation of the tibialis posterior tendon, responsible for maintaining the arch of the foot.
This condition can cause pain, swelling, and progressive flatfoot deformity, leading to instability and difficulty with walking or standing.

3- Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is characterized by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that supports the arch of the foot.
It typically causes stabbing pain in the heel or along the bottom of the foot, especially with the first steps in the morning or after prolonged periods of rest.

4- Bursitis

Bursitis in the ankle occurs when the small fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that cushion and reduce friction between tendons and bones become inflamed.
It results in localized pain, swelling, and tenderness around the affected area, often aggravated by movement or pressure.

5- Arch changes (flat feet, high arches, low arches)

Changes in the shape of the arches, including flat feet, high arches, or low arches, can contribute to ankle pain by altering biomechanics and increasing stress on surrounding structures.
These conditions may lead to various symptoms such as pain, instability, and difficulty with weight-bearing activities.

6- Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, including those in the ankle.
It leads to pain, stiffness, swelling, and eventually joint deformity, significantly impacting mobility and quality of life.

7- Lupus

Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that can affect multiple organs and tissues, including the joints.
Ankle pain in lupus may result from inflammation, tissue damage, or the formation of immune complexes, contributing to joint swelling, stiffness, and discomfort.

8- Osteoarthritis ankle

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, occurs due to the gradual breakdown of cartilage in the joints, including the ankle.
It causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and limited range of motion, typically worsening over time with wear and tear.

9- Gout

Gout is a form of arthritis caused by the accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints, often affecting the big toe but can also involve the ankle.
It results in sudden and severe pain, swelling, redness, and warmth in the affected joint, commonly triggered by dietary factors or alcohol consumption.

10- Sprained ankle

An ankle sprain involves damage to the ligaments surrounding the ankle joint, typically caused by twisting or rolling the foot beyond its normal range of motion.
It leads to pain, swelling, bruising, and instability, with varying degrees of severity depending on the extent of ligament damage.

11- Chronic lateral ankle pain

Chronic lateral ankle pain refers to persistent discomfort on the outside of the ankle joint, often due to unresolved or recurrent ankle sprains, ligament laxity, or underlying structural abnormalities.
It may involve instability, weakness, and recurrent episodes of swelling or pain during activities.

12- Ankle fracture

An ankle fracture occurs when one or more bones in the ankle joint break or crack, usually due to trauma such as falls, sports injuries, or car accidents.
It causes intense pain, swelling, bruising, deformity, and difficulty bearing weight on the affected limb.

13- Achilles tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis is inflammation of the Achilles tendon, commonly caused by overuse, excessive exercise, or improper footwear.
It results in pain, stiffness, swelling, and tenderness at the back of the ankle, particularly during physical activity or when pressing on the tendon.

14- Osteochondral lesions of the talus

Osteochondral lesions of the talus involve damage or abnormalities in the cartilage and underlying bone of the talus bone in the ankle joint.
It leads to pain, swelling, stiffness, and mechanical symptoms such as locking or catching, often exacerbated by weight-bearing activities.

15- Reactive arthritis

Reactive arthritis, also known as Reiter’s syndrome, is a type of inflammatory arthritis that develops in response to an infection, typically in the gastrointestinal or genitourinary tract.
It can cause ankle pain, swelling, stiffness, and inflammation, along with other systemic symptoms such as fever and skin rashes.

16- Scleroderma

Scleroderma is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by excessive collagen production, leading to thickening and hardening of the skin and connective tissues.
Ankle involvement in scleroderma may result in pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility, along with skin changes and vascular abnormalities.

17- Infection

Infections in the ankle joint, such as septic arthritis or cellulitis, can occur due to bacterial, viral, or fungal pathogens entering the joint space through open wounds, surgical procedures, or bloodstream dissemination.
They cause severe pain, swelling, redness, warmth, and systemic symptoms such as fever and chills, requiring prompt medical intervention.

18- Sprains

Ankle sprains occur when ligaments in the ankle are stretched or torn due to sudden twisting movements, commonly during sports activities or uneven terrain.
They result in pain, swelling, and difficulty bearing weight on the affected ankle.

19- Tendonitis

Tendonitis involves inflammation of the tendons surrounding the ankle joint, often due to overuse or repetitive movements.
This condition leads to pain, stiffness, and tenderness around the ankle, particularly during movement.

20- Ankle arthritis

Various forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, can affect the ankle joint, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Arthritis can develop gradually over time or result from autoimmune conditions, leading to chronic discomfort and limited mobility.

22- Bone breaks

Ankle bone breaks, or fractures, can occur due to traumatic injuries, such as falls or impacts, or from overuse injuries in athletes.
Fractures cause severe pain, swelling, bruising, and sometimes deformity, requiring prompt medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.

23- Bone bruises

Bone bruises result from trauma or repetitive stress on the ankle bones, causing small microfractures within the bone.
They manifest as localized pain, tenderness, and swelling, often worsening with activity and improving with rest and conservative management.

This comprehensive list outlines a variety of conditions and injuries that can lead to ankle pain, providing insights into their causes and symptoms.

swollen ankle causes

Identifying ankle pain causes by localization

Ankle pain can manifest in various locations, each indicative of specific underlying causes.
Here’s a breakdown of ankle pain localization and associated conditions:

Front ankle pain

Anterior impingement syndrome: Front ankle pain may often be attributed to anterior impingement syndrome, a condition where bony or soft tissue structures become compressed at the front of the ankle joint, leading to pain and limited range of motion.

Tibialis anterior tendinopathy:  Another common cause of front ankle pain is tibialis anterior tendinopathy, characterized by inflammation or degeneration of the tibialis anterior tendon due to overuse or repetitive strain, typically seen in activities involving dorsiflexion of the foot.

Pain in back side of ankle

Achilles tendinopathy: Pain at the back of the ankle is frequently associated with Achilles tendinopathy, a condition involving inflammation or degeneration of the Achilles tendon due to overuse or biomechanical issues, such as tight calf muscles or poor foot alignment.

Retrocalcaneal bursitis: Retrocalcaneal bursitis, inflammation of the bursa located between the Achilles tendon and the heel bone, can also cause pain at the back of the ankle, often exacerbated by activities like running or jumping.

Medial ankle pain

Medial malleolus stress fractures: Medial ankle pain may arise from medial malleolus stress fractures, which occur due to repetitive stress or trauma to the inner aspect of the ankle, leading to small cracks or fractures in the medial malleolus bone.

Deltoid ligament injuries: Injuries to the deltoid ligament, a strong band of tissue on the inner side of the ankle, can also cause medial ankle pain. These injuries typically occur due to excessive twisting or spraining of the ankle, resulting in ligament sprains or tears.

Chronic lateral ankle pain

Lateral ligament sprains: Lateral ankle pain is often associated with lateral ligament sprains, which occur when the ligaments on the outer side of the ankle are stretched or torn, usually due to sudden twisting or rolling of the ankle.

Peroneal tendon injuries: Injuries to the peroneal tendons, which run along the outer side of the ankle, can also cause lateral ankle pain. These injuries may result from overuse, trauma, or repetitive stress on the tendons.

Posterior ankle pain

Posterior impingement syndrome: Posterior ankle pain may be indicative of posterior impingement syndrome, a condition where soft tissues or bony structures at the back of the ankle joint become compressed during plantarflexion, leading to pain and limited mobility.

Flexor hallucis longus tendinopathy: Tendinopathy of the flexor hallucis longus tendon, which runs along the back of the ankle, can also cause posterior ankle pain. This condition is often seen in dancers or individuals engaged in activities requiring repetitive plantarflexion of the foot.

Inside ankle pain

Tarsal tunnel syndrome: Inside ankle pain may result from tarsal tunnel syndrome, a condition where the tibial nerve becomes compressed or irritated as it passes through the tarsal tunnel, leading to pain, tingling, or numbness along the inner aspect of the ankle and foot.

Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction: Dysfunction of the posterior tibial tendon, which supports the arch of the foot and helps stabilize the ankle joint, can also cause inside ankle pain. This condition often develops due to overuse, biomechanical issues, or degenerative changes in the tendon.

Understanding the localization of ankle pain and its corresponding causes is crucial in guiding appropriate treatment strategies and optimizing outcomes for those experiencing ankle discomfort.

sore right ankle

Ankle pain treatment at home

Natural treatment for ankle pain involves several strategies that offer relief and promote healing:

  • RICE protocol

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation are essential for managing ankle injuries.
Rest allows tissues to heal, while ice reduces swelling, compression controls inflammation, and elevation aids fluid drainage, particularly effective for acute injuries like sprains and strains.

  • Cold compression therapy

This treatment combines cold application and compression to manage inflammation and pain effectively.
Cold therapy constricts blood vessels to reduce swelling, while compression provides support and promotes circulation, accelerating recovery from acute ankle injuries.

  • OTC pain medication

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can effectively manage discomfort and inflammation associated with ankle injuries.
These medications alleviate pain and swelling, facilitating quicker recovery and restoration of ankle function.

  • Avoiding pressure on the foot

Minimizing weight-bearing activities and immobilizing the ankle with a brace or splint helps prevent further strain and promotes optimal healing, especially for acute injuries like sprains and strains.

  • Lymphatic massage

Stimulating circulation and promoting drainage of excess fluid from the affected area, lymphatic massage facilitates the body’s natural healing processes, providing relief from post-injury inflammation or chronic conditions like lymphedema.

  • Ankle pain exercises

Engaging in mobility exercises improves flexibility, range of motion, and tissue healing.
These gentle movements and stretches encourage nutrient flow to the injured area, supporting joint health and facilitating recovery from ankle injuries.

  • Stretches for ankle pain

Incorporating gentle assisted stretching exercises into a rehabilitation regimen helps reduce muscle tension and improve mobility in the ankle joint, contributing to improved function and reduced discomfort.

By integrating these natural treatments into a comprehensive care plan, individuals can effectively manage ankle pain, reduce inflammation, and support the body’s natural healing processes.

ankle pain relief

Heal and Soothe - Pain Relief

Ankle braces

Depending on the location of your pain, you can choose a suitable orthosis to relieve you.
Notethat it is more prudent to consult a specialist to determine your condition and choose accordingly.

  • Ankle brace for sprain

Adopting an ankle brace is an excellent choice to limit chronic tension, and protect tendons and muscles.
It is also very suitable for arthritis pain while reducing plantar flexion and protecting against eversion or inversion of the ankle.

This brace for ankle sprained is made from a very elastic and very thin breathable fabric, which allows you to wear it for long periods of time without any discomfort (ad).

  • Stabilize ankle

Choosing a stabilizing splint is ideal for immobilizing the ankle and thus reducing pain.
This Donjoy ankle brace, stabilizing with lateral reinforcements in the form of ankle strapping is an option to be preferred (ad).

  • Drop foot brace

Wearing a drop foot support brace like this can help you regain some mobility while relieving your pain (ad).

This orthosis is very suitable if you are looking for real ankle and foot stability to improve mobility during your daily activities.

  • Foot orthosis

A compression ankle brace like this can help you if you suffer from osteoarthritis of the ankle (ad).

Made of extremely thin breathable fabric, you can wear it all day long under your socks.
Designed to relieve pain and counteract swelling, you can wear it while going about your daily activities and even keep it on at night.

relieve ankle pain

Ankle bandages

  • Sprained ankle bandage

The ankle wrap can be a great option if you suffer from a sprain, tendonitis with medial or lateral malleolus pain, ligament damage, or osteoarthritis pain (ad).
Designed in a very elastic and comfortable breathable material, it allows you to adjust your ankle brace yourself according to the pain you feel.

  • Ankle brace sock

This ankle brace sleeve allows you to stabilize the foot while enjoying a thin, breathable and comfortable material that can be worn throughout the day (ad).
It is very suitable if you suffer repeated sprains to ensure constant prevention.

Home remedies for ankle pain and swelling

  • Arnica

Arnica oil is very suitable for ankle pain (ad).

This perennial herb has the ability to reduce inflammation that causes pain.
It also helps to neutralize the swelling of the area.
Arnica is the recommended herb for sprained ankles.

  • Organic silica

Silica is well known for its positive action on joint mobility.
It also has recognized anti-inflammatory properties that will help you reduce pain.

Available in tablet or liquid form, I recommend ionic silica for better absorption (ad).

  • French green clay

Green clay is a very powerful natural remedy.
Its application as a poultice brings immediate relief because the clay has anti-inflammatory properties.
As effective as an application of ice, the clay poultice benefits from prolonged duration of action.

Apply a layer of french green clay to your ankle, cover with plastic wrap and leave the poultice to work for at least 30 minutes and your pain will lessen (ad).

  • Aloe Vera

Pure aloe vera is very indicated in the treatment of many pains (ad).
As part of ankle damage, its anti-inflammatory effects can significantly reduce throbbing.

  • Turmeric

Curcumin is a treatment of choice for a sore ankle.
The anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin turmeric are very powerful, to the point that it is very suitable for relieving osteoarthritis pain while reducing joint stiffness (ad).
Curcumin has also been shown to improve joint function and prevent an unfavorable progression of osteoarthritis.

  • Epsom salt

Epsom salt, rich in magnesium sulfate, is renowned for its therapeutic properties in alleviating ankle pain.
By soaking the affected ankle in a warm Epsom salt solution, muscle tension can be eased, inflammation reduced, and soreness relieved (ad).
This simple yet effective remedy provides relaxation and promotes healing for aching ankles, offering a valuable addition to self-care routines aimed at managing ankle discomfort.

my ankles ache

Essential oil for ankle pain

  • Wintergreen oil

Wintergreen essential oil is great for treating pain from a sprained or strained ankle (ad).

To benefit from its unique anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, massage the affected area with a few drops of wintergreen oil diluted in olive oil or arnica oil for maximum efficiency.

  • Helicrysum oil

Italian helichrysum essential oil has anti-inflammatory, anti-hematoma, circulatory, and regenerating properties essential for relieving ankle trauma.

Simply apply 3 drops of pure helichrysum oil to the affected area as soon as possible, an application that you renew 30 minutes later then 5 times a day for 48 hours (ad).

Ankle pain for no reason

Stabbing ankle pain can be very disabling.
But when the pain is localized, it is possible to relieve it by natural means while wearing a brace or a suitable bandage.
The main thing here is to treat the pain gently while avoiding any new risk of sprain or any aggravation of the initial symptoms.

Caring for an ankle requires patience and resignation as well as deep treatment to consolidate it.
Remember to consult your doctor if the pain persists a little too long.

Frequently asked questions about ankle swollen and painful

How can I speed up healing for my ankle?

To expedite healing, ensure you’re getting adequate rest, apply ice to reduce swelling, compress the ankle with a bandage, and elevate it above heart level whenever possible. Additionally, follow any treatment plan prescribed by your healthcare provider.

Which vitamin helps with ankle pain?

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in bone health and may help alleviate ankle pain by promoting bone strength and reducing inflammation. Consider incorporating vitamin D-rich foods into your diet or speak with a healthcare professional about supplements.

Can drinking water ease ankle pain?

Staying hydrated is essential for overall health, including joint function. Proper hydration helps maintain the elasticity of ligaments and tendons, potentially reducing ankle pain. Aim to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to support joint health.

Does walking help alleviate ankle pain?

Light, gentle walking may help improve blood circulation and promote healing in the ankle. However, it’s essential to avoid putting excessive strain on the injured ankle. Consult with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate level of activity based on your specific condition.

What’s the best sleeping position to relieve ankle pain?

Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your ankles can help relieve pressure on the affected ankle and promote proper alignment. Alternatively, sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees can also provide relief by reducing strain on the ankles. Experiment with different sleeping positions to find what works best for you.

This blog is copyright ©2024 by gomedica.org. All rights reserved


Natural health is paramount to me, natural remedies have always been part of my life. Whatever the problem, I make sure to find natural solutions that can often be associated with traditional medicine. Everything I write here allows me to share them with you.

The content of this article is not intended to replace medical advice or any treatment.
Keep in mind that you should contact your doctor or any qualified healthcare professional to determine if you can add a supplement to your treatment or change your diet.

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