If the outside of your ankle is swollen, this may be caused by trauma from an injury, ankle arthritis, or posterior tibialis tendinopathy. Read now for more information on swelling on outside of the ankle and treatment options.
5 Swollen Outer Ankle Causes
Arthritis simply means inflammation of the joints. Because the feet and ankles have many small joints and carry the weight of the body, they are often the first place that arthritis appears.
Arthritis is caused by a breakdown in the protective cartilage at the end of each joint, so that the bones begin to wear against each other and the joint becomes stiff and painful. This breakdown may be due to simple wear and tear; an injury; or from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition which causes the body to break down its own cartilage.
Symptoms include swelling, warmth, and redness in the joint, and pain with movement or with pressure on the joint.
Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and imaging such as x-rays, CT scan, or MRI.
There is no cure for arthritis, but treatment is important because the symptoms can be managed to prevent further damage, ease pain, and improve quality of life. Treatment involves physical therapy, pain-relieving medications, and sometimes surgery to help repair damaged joints.
Top Symptoms: swollen ankle, swollen foot, joint stiffness, pain in one ankle, ankle stiffness
Posterior tibialis tendinopathy
The posterior tibialis tendon attaches the calf muscle to the bones on the underside of the foot. It provides stability and arch support. If this tendon is damaged, the result may be a flat, unstable foot.
Posterior tibialis tendinopathy is most often a sports injury, where the tendon becomes inflamed or torn through overuse or high impact.
Symptoms include pain down the ankle and into the foot, sometimes with swelling. The pain becomes worse with any activity, even standing or walking. When standing, the patient's arch will be collapsed and flat and the front of the foot will point outward. The patient will be unable to stand on the injured foot and raise the heel.
Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and imaging such as x-ray, CT scan, or MRI.
Treatment involves rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, orthotics (shoe pads,) braces, and sometimes steroid injections into the damaged tendon. Surgery can be tried, but tends to be complex and cannot always restore the tendon completely.
Rarity: Ultra rare
Top Symptoms: swollen foot, pain in one foot, limping, pain in one ankle, spontaneous ankle pain
Symptoms that never occur with posterior tibialis tendinopathy: recent cutting accident
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Arthritis is a general term for multiple conditions that cause painful inflammation and stiffness throughout the body. (RA) is a chronic condition that is autoimmune in nature, meaning that the body's immune system which normally protects the body by att...
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deep layers of the skin. It can appear anywhere on the body but is most common on the feet, lower legs, and face.
The condition can develop if Staphylococcus bacteria enter broken skin through a cut, scrape, or existing skin infection such as impetigo or eczema.
Most susceptible are those with a weakened immune system, as from corticosteroids or chemotherapy, or with impaired circulation from diabetes or any vascular disease.
Symptoms arise somewhat gradually and include sore, reddened skin.
If not treated, the infection can become severe, form pus, and destroy the tissue around it. In rare cases, the infection can cause blood poisoning or meningitis.
Symptom of severe pain, fever, cold sweats, and fast heartbeat should be seen immediately by a medical provider.
Diagnosis is made through physical examination.
Treatment consists of antibiotics, keeping the wound clean, and sometimes surgery to remove any dead tissue. Cellulitis often recurs, so it is important to treat any underlying conditions and improve the immune system with rest and good nutrition.
Top Symptoms: fever, chills, facial redness, swollen face, face pain
Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis: facial redness, area of skin redness
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Osteochondritis dissecans, also called OCD, is a joint condition. It occurs when there is not enough blood flow within the end of a bone, under the protective cartilage. These bone layers begin to die and separate from the main bone, taking the cartilage with them.
The exact cause is not known. It may be due to overtraining a young person before the bone is entirely mature, which can interfere with blood supply.
Most susceptible are children and teenagers. The condition is found most often in only one joint, usually the ankle, knee, or elbow. However, any joint can be affected and there may be more than one.
Symptoms include swelling and pain in the joint during exercise, and sometimes "locking" of the joint. Osteochondritis dissecans may lead to osteoarthritis if not treated.
Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and imaging.
Treatment first involves rest because in children who are still growing, the bone and cartilage may heal spontaneously. If there are loose pieces of bone within a joint, surgery may be necessary.
Top Symptoms: pain in one knee, knee stiffness, knee instability, knee pain that gets worse during a run, pop in the knee
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Swollen Outer Ankle
- Have you ever been diagnosed with diabetes?
- Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
- What is your body mass?
- Do you have high blood pressure?
Self-diagnose with our free if you answer yes on any of these questions.
Swollen Outer Ankle Symptom Checker Statistics
People who have experienced swollen outer ankle have also experienced:
- 4% Ankle Pain
- 4% Pain In One Ankle
- 3% Heel Pain
People who have experienced swollen outer ankle were most often matched with:
- 42% Posterior Tibialis Tendinopathy
- 42% Rheumatoid Arthritis
- 14% Ankle Arthritis
People who have experienced swollen outer ankle had symptoms persist for:
- 30% Less than a week
- 27% Over a month
- 23% Less than a day
Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from .