4 Best Home Treatments for Ankle Swelling

someone with an ankle sprain

Treatments for Ankle Swelling: Where to Start


Ankle swelling, also known as edema, is a common condition often caused by inflammation or injury. It can lead to discomfort and limit mobility in the affected area. Fortunately, there are several ways to treat ankle swelling at home using simple methods such as elevation, ice packs, compression bandages, and anti-inflammatory medications. When these treatments fail to provide relief, it might be time to consult a medical professional. Knowing when to go for a checkup is important for the proper diagnosis and treatment of ankle swelling. The Ottawa Ankle Rules provide helpful guidance in determining if an injury warrants further assessment by a doctor or physical therapist.

What Causes Swelling in the Ankle?

Ankle swelling can happen due to a variety of reasons. Common causes include:

  • Injury to the ankle – Sprains, strains, or fractures can cause swelling in the affected area
  • Chronic medical conditions such as arthritis and diabetes
  • Inflammation due to infection or autoimmune diseases
  • Side effects from certain medications
  • Varicose veins
  • Pregnancy (due to increased pressure on the veins)

Home Treatments For Ankle Swelling

If you’re experiencing ankle swelling, there are several at-home treatments that can help reduce it:

  • Elevate your ankle above heart level whenever possible. This helps promote better blood circulation and reduces discomfort.
  • Apply ice packs or cold compresses 20 minutes at a time, several times throughout the day. This will help reduce inflammation and pain in the affected area.
  • Wrap your ankle tightly with an elastic bandage or compression stocking to provide support and reduce swelling.
  • Your doctor may prescribe you take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve discomfort and reduce inflammation.

When To Consult a Medical Professional

In some cases, ankle swelling may require medical attention. If the swelling persists for more than 3 days or is accompanied by severe pain, redness, or fever, it’s important to seek professional help. In addition, if you experience numbness and tingling in your foot or toes or difficulty walking due to the swelling, it’s best to consult a doctor.

Ottowa Ankle Rules

The Ottawa Ankle Rules are a set of guidelines used by medical professionals to determine whether an ankle injury requires an X-ray or not. According to these rules, if you’re experiencing any of the following:

  • Pain in the malleolar zone (the bony area on the inside or outside of the ankle),
  • Bone tenderness to touch in any of these five areas, or
  • Inability to bear weight both immediately and in the emergency department, it’s best to get an x-ray.


Swelling in the ankle can be caused by a variety of factors and can range from mild to severe. Self-treatments, such as applying cold compresses and elevation, are usually effective in managing swelling. However, if the symptoms persist for more than 3 days or are accompanied by other significant signs, it’s best to consult a medical professional for further diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, if you experience any of the Ottawa Ankle Rules symptoms, you should get an x-ray. Taking these steps will help ensure accurate diagnosis, proper treatment, and a speedy recovery.