5 Best Ways to Reduce Swelling in your Ankle

Ankle swelling, also known as oedema, is a common condition that can be caused by a variety of factors. It can be painful and can interfere with activities of daily living. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce ankle swelling and promote comfort.

Ankle swelling occurs when the tissues of the ankle become inflamed or swollen due to an injury, infection or underlying medical condition. It can be accompanied by redness, pain, warmth and difficulty moving the ankle. Ankle swelling can be caused by a variety of factors, including trauma, infection, inflammatory diseases, and medical conditions.


Trauma to the ankle can cause swelling as the result of a sprain, strain, fracture, or dislocation. The swelling and pain can be caused by tissue damage to the joint capsule, ligaments, tendons, and bones, which can lead to an accumulation of fluid and inflammation. If you suspect a fracture, go to A&E. Otherwise seek support from our physiotherapy and osteopathy team at Surrey Physio.


Infection of the ankle can cause swelling due to the body’s inflammatory response. Bacterial infections, such as cellulitis, can be caused by a break in the skin, such as a cut or scrape, and can cause redness, warmth, and pain in addition to swelling. Viral infections, such as shingles, can cause swelling as well as a rash and blisters. This is a serious problem, and if you suspect infection, you must go to your GP or A&E.

Inflammatory Diseases:

Inflammatory diseases, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis, can cause the ankle to swell due to the body’s response to the disease. These diseases can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints, as well as redness and warmth. Physio’s can help with advising the right exercises and supporting you to reduce the ankle swelling.

Medical Conditions:

Medical conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis is a serious medical concern and you must go to A&E if you suspect a DVT (swelling in the leg, redness, feeling generally unwell, sweating, or being unable to weight bear through the leg). Deep vein thrombosis is a condition where a blood clot forms in the veins of the leg, and can cause swelling, pain, and warmth in addition to discoloration of the skin. Lymphedema is a condition where the lymphatic system becomes blocked, leading to fluid accumulation and swelling.


Plenty of blood pressure medications can cause swelling in the legs. Seek advice about your medication from your GP. Always look to lose weight, improve fitness and reduce your blood pressure yourself and supplement with medication if you are unable to reduce your blood pressure naturally.

In some cases, the cause of ankle swelling may be unknown, or the cause may be a combination of factors. If the cause is unknown, it is important to seek medical attention to diagnose and treat the underlying cause. Treatment for ankle swelling depends on the underlying cause, but may include protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation, and anti-inflammatory medications.

5 Exercises to Reduce Ankle Swelling:

1. Elevation: Elevating your ankles above the level of your heart can help reduce swelling. When lying down, place pillows or blankets under your ankles to achieve elevation. Sitting in a recliner or propping your feet up on an ottoman can also be effective.

Sit down with your heel resting on a chair opposite you. Gently use your hand to push your knee downwards, to make your leg straight. This exercise is especially useful for stiff or arthritic knees, or when you have difficulty straightening your leg. It can also be useful post-surgery.

2. Compression: Compression garments such as compression socks or stockings can help reduce swelling by providing gentle pressure to the area. Compression socks should be snug, but not too tight. If you experience any discomfort, contact your doctor to ensure you are wearing the correct size.

3. Ankle Moblisations: Sitting bare foot, lift your foot off the floor. Use your toes and ankle to draw letters of the alphabet. Start with "a" and then progress right through the alphabet to "z". Keep each letter and movement controlled and specific.

4. Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce swelling and inflammation. Wrap a few ice cubes in a thin cloth and apply to the area for 10-15 minutes at a time.

5. Diet: Eating a diet low in sodium and high in fibre can help reduce swelling by reducing water retention. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding processed and high-fat foods can also help. Anti-inflammatory foods including turmeric can also help.

By following these tips, you can reduce ankle swelling and promote comfort. Be sure to talk to your doctor if the swelling persists or worsens.

(Therapists: these videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises www.rehabmypatient.com. Patients: if you are a patient needing advice, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page).