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Swollen Ankle with No Pain?

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Swollen ankles without pain can be caused by pregnancy, obesity, inactivity, heart and kidney disease, and more. Treatment options discussed include diet, exercise, massage, herbs, diuretics, and compression stockings.

Painless swelling of the feet and ankles is known as edema. Edema of the ankles has many potential causes, and fluid retention between the body cells is one of them.

Though the swelling usually appears below the knees, the retained fluid may also affect other parts of the body, causing edema. Besides water retention in the cells, some other causes of ankle edema are:

Swollen Ankle with No Pain During Pregnancy

Pregnant women often suffer from painless swollen ankles, especially in the last trimesters. This is caused by hormone-induced salt and water retention. Furthermore, the enlarged womb partly blocks blood flow from the legs.

Although painless ankle swelling during pregnancy is typically harmless, Mayo Clinic warns that a sudden or severe increase in ankle swelling may be a sign of the development of preeclampsia, a serious complication.

Swollen Ankle with No Pain from Obesity

People who are overweight often develop painless ankle swelling. An excess amount of body fat constricts the leg and abdominal veins, raising the pressure within the blood vessels and promoting fluid seepage into the soft tissues.

Swollen Ankle with No Pain Due to Inactivity

Muscular activity pumps the blood out of the legs toward the heart. Extended periods of inactivity can cause blood pooling in the lower legs, causing fluid leakage into the soft tissues and painless ankle swelling.

People who are tied to desk jobs may also develop painless swollen ankles, also known as peripheral edema. It is essential to take breaks in between and walk for 5 to 10 minutes to reduce ankle swelling associated with inactivity.

Swollen Ankle - Heart and Kidney Disease

According to the American Heart Association, a persistent swollen ankle is a common symptom among people suffering from moderate to severe heart complications.

The weakened ability of the heart to pump blood causes blood pooling in the legs and water retention by the kidneys.

As per the Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals, painless swelling of the ankles is a common symptom of chronic or acute kidney disease. Taking a low salt diet may help reduce peripheral edema in people.

Swollen Ankle: Is It Always Edema?

Swelling of the ankles or feet is not always due to fluid retention. Other reasons such as injury, shock, infection, or disease may also cause a hidden swelling or lump.

Edema is one of the several causes of swelling. The easiest way of finding out if the swollen ankle is caused by edema is by checking for pain. If you have a swollen ankle without pain then it is edema.

How to Treat a Swollen Ankle with No Pain

For treating both, the Pitting as well as the Non-Pitting Edema, you could try some home remedies such as wearing support stockings, exercise, taking a low-salt diet, avoid wearing tight clothing, and so on.

You must avoid eating some foods such as white flour foods, processed foods, sugary foods and drinks, coffee, black tea, and alcohol. You must limit your salt intake to no more than 2100 milligrams per day to reduce fluid retention and swelling.


The sodium in salt is directly linked to water retention in the body. When you cut your daily sodium intake, it is possible to reduce swelling in the ankle as long as it is caused by water retention and the edema is not severe.

Food products and beverages containing diuretic substances such as caffeine can paradoxically cause leg edema too.

Since caffeine causes uncontrolled diuresis, ingesting it regularly and in high amounts can trick the body into assuming the onset of dehydration. The response to this feedback is to retain water in the body.

Alcohol can interfere with normal kidney and liver functions. Long-term alcohol intake can even damage the cells of the kidneys and make the organs inefficient.

Chronic alcoholism can cause a list of diseases that can also promote swelling in the ankles.

Exercise and Massage

Short and regular aerobic exercises can help reduce swelling in the ankles.

Exercise improves blood circulation and helps restart the lymphatic system. These actions prevent fluids from pooling in the legs and also drain any fluid retained there back into the lymph nodes.

Light exercise is sufficient for relieving swollen ankles. Running should be kept to a minimum until the swelling goes down.

Massage can also help improve the outcomes of exercise in treating swollen ankles. In fact, leg massage should be considered first especially if the ankles are swollen and raw.

Massage is a technique to manually drain fluids from the swollen area. Depending on the severity of the swelling, massage can be done at home or done by a professional therapist.

Usually, leg massages should be done with light, firm strokes starting from the toes. The strokes will move up while keeping constant pressure on the legs.

Since the ankle is a junction between the feet and the lower leg, swelling is especially at the worst there. Massage can help ease the swelling by keeping the pressure on the veins to stimulate blood flow to empty the area.

Furthermore, a trained therapist can help move the fluids in the swelling through the lymphatic system to be drained to the large lymph nodes in the groin area.

Compression Stockings

Compression stockings are special elastic hosiery that can help exert graduated pressure on the legs. By design, they are especially suited for treating swollen ankles since they exert their highest pressure at the ankles.

Compression stockings can go as high as the knees, thigh, or waist depending on the severity of the swelling and the preference of the wearer.

While compression stocking producing pressures less than 20 mmHg can be obtained without doctors’ prescriptions, those providing higher pressures will need prescriptions.

During a consultation with the doctor, the ABI value should be calculated. This is the Ankle Brachial Index, and it is a measure of the constriction of the blood vessels running through the ankle.

When the ABI value is less than 1.0, compression stockings are not recommended since they can actually stop blood flow to the feet by constricting the arteries running through the ankles.

Compression stockings should also be perfect fits for them to provide maximal benefits. Therefore, the right measurements need to be taken when ordering them.

Compression stockings work like feet massage. They exert constant pressure at the ankles. This pressure is reduced further up the leg so that the fluid retained in the swollen ankle can be gently squeezed up the feet to empty into the lymph nodes in the groin area.


Herbs can also be used to treat swollen ankles. These are natural remedies that can be applied at home.

Examples of herbs used for treating leg edema include dandelion, horse chestnut, and ginkgo biloba.

Others include crushed flax seeds which are sprinkled on food items as a powder; mustard seeds which can be soaked in water and the solution applied to the swollen ankles; coriander seeds which can be boiled and the filtered solution drunk; and tea tree oil which can be rubbed on the swollen ankles.


Diuretics are also effective for treating swollen feet especially when the swelling is caused by fluids retained in the body.

Diuretics work by preventing the reabsorption of sodium and water in the tubules of kidneys. There are 3 classes of diuretics: loop diuretics, thiazide diuretics, and potassium-sparing diuretics.

An example of loop diuretics is Lasix which contains Furosemide. It is the most common diuretic used, and it acts at the ascending limb of the loop of Henle in the kidney nephrons.

Thiazide diuretics, on the other hand, act at the distal convoluted tubules of the nephrons. They are, however, not recommended for people suffering from gout and diabetes. Thiazides are also not recommended for pregnant women.

Potassium-sparing diuretics spare potassium ions. This is unlike the other types of diuretics. Diuretics belonging to this class are prescribed for patients who show the symptoms of hypokalemia with other diuretics.

You might also consider trying Capisette, a natural remedy for fluid retention. It has been developed to provide you with the most powerful blend of nutrients, proven to reduce fluid retention.

Next Article: Edema Diet: Foods to Avoid for Edema