What makes your ankles swell ?



Cannot figure it out. For the longest time my ankles swell up at night when I am at work. I am not standing. I actually am not moving.
When I went to the doctor, I told him, but they were fine then. Bloodwork all came back fine.
I have put on a lot of weight recently...thought my feet just got fat. But I can push in and the indent stays there.
my wrists feel big and fat too. But not mushy like ankles.

Any idea's

hearts and roses

Mind Reader
Water retention, excess sodium...edema. When they are all swollen, take a snapshot and then bring it to your DR. Or, better yet, go see your DR when they are swollen.

Do they hurt or just swell?


No real answers to life..
How is your blood pressure? I have swelling ankles when I am in the car on long drives or airplane rides. I also have elevated blood pressure. I presently take a diuretic, but ankles still puff up. Don't want to alarm you, but swelling ankles can also be a sign of heart disease. There are many OTHER reasons for swollen ankles, but I do think you are right to check it out.


Active Member
Not moving can do it. Any time you're sitting and not moving your legs at all, the blood can pool. This is why they worry about DVTs on long plane trips. Have you ever stuck an ear of barley stalk-first up your sleeve? When you swing your arm, the barley ear will 'climb' up your sleeve with the microscopic little hooks on the pointy bits. Blood vessels in your legs work a bit like that - when you move, your muscles actually work to pump blood back towards your heart. So when you don't move your legs, the blood just pools. Your lymphatic circulation does the same thing, and it sounds like it's your lymphatic circulation that is not working properly here.

A couple of suggestions - good work station practices dictate that you take out a few minutes every hour or so (I think it's ten minutes) to get up, leave the desk, stretch arms and legs, walk around a bit, swing your arms, do a couple of specific exercises before going back to work. It prevents all sorts of things including RSI and circulation problems.

Other suggestion - work your feet while you're at the desk. it's also good practice to do this while in the car (at red lights is a good time). Flex your feet back and forth, rotate them clockwise round the ankle, then anticlockwise. If you can massage your feet then do so - rub the top of your feet (not so hard as to hurt) from the toes towards your heel. Always in that direction, not towards the toes. This also encourages lymphatic circulation to move in the direction it's supposed to go. More massage is better than less massage. Every little bit can help a lot.

You can get a thing called a "Push Cush" which you can use to work your feet while you're sitting. Or you could partly inflate the bag from a wine cask or juice cask (do you have those? They're an Aussie invention, I just realised) and use that. A hot water bottle partly filled with air is a good substitute.

The problem is often worse in hot weather. Avoid wearing anything which constricts your feet, legs and ankles (ie avoid tight socks or elasticised track pants). You can buy elasticised support stockings, but I'd talk to the doctor first before you waste your cash. If you really have problems with poor circulation, there are easy tests now to find out why - Doppler studies, for example. Easy, non-invasive.

Cut back on salt, drink more water and get a few things checked by your doctor. Meanwhile, exercise your feet at the desk.

I have unexplained edema in my legs. They just "blew up" over the course of three days - to the point where I couldn't get my sneakers on. (I had to buy huge mens sandals and even then had to sew on velcro so I could keep them on!) I ended up gaining close to 100 lbs!!! My legs got so big that my skin was breaking down and actually weeping and then would get infected - it was a mess.

They have since gone down to a managable level and I lost 40 lbs in a few weeks. (Again - unexplained!) But I still have the fluid in both legs. I am still wearing shoes that are two sizes larger than I used to wear. No one has ever figured out what is causing it. I have had all sorts of heart tests and bloodwork done. No answers.

You have what is called "Pitting" edema when you can make that indent in your ankles. I would definitely pursue this with your doctor. But you can also get some compression stockings to wear at work - to keep the fliud out of your lower legs. Get the ones that are "graduated" compression - not just support socks. You have to put them on when your legs AREN'T swollen. And try to keep your feet UP when you are sitting down. (No easy task with difficult children!!)

I hope you find a simple cause and solution.



New Member
I have hypertension that is controlled with medications, but always a concern. When I sit at my desk too long without getting up and walking around, my feet and ankles always swell up. When difficult child was in psychiatric hospital, the nights I went to visit him, my feet were huge. I figured it was from sitting at my desk all day - then jumping in the car for the 45 minute drive to psychiatric hospital - then sitting with him for an hour + and then driving back home.

I have a basement office all to myself at work and have taken to getting up at least once an hour and mimicking some of difficult child's karate kicks and punches. I do about 25 of each - then sit back down. It helps a bit.

When you get any chance to put your feet up - even if it's only for 10 minutes - you should try to do it.

Good luck and hang in there!


New Member
Swelling ankles are the way my kidney disorder was diagnosed.
I had to much protein in the urine. Ask a Dr. to check the protein level in the urine. Lisa

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
As well as what has already been suggested there is a condition called Lymph edema. It's where the lymph nodes in the extremities don't drain properly and can cause the affected extremity to swell. It can be easily treated with medications, but most people never think to have the swelling checked in to.

I swear to God I might not be a doctor, but N's b/f's Mom has this in her legs. Poor woman is tiny up top and the lower half of her body is huge! It looks so odd, and you can tell it isn't weight. But we haven't gotten her convinced to see a doctor yet. easy child also thinks that's what her problem is. (hers has progressed over time)

It's worth being checked out since the causes can be blood pressure related, heart related, kidney related or lymph related. And heck, it's downright uncomfortable. :frown:

I swell in my hands, ankles, feet, face, but the worst is my belly. Because of the kidney disease it's usually the first indicator I'm retaining water. One day I'll look normal, the next like I'm 8 months pregnant. It's h e ll on the wardrobe. lol

I've been swollen for over a week now. :hammer: