Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"My left ankle is swollen. What should I do?"

ZocdocAnswersMy left ankle is swollen. What should I do?


My left ankle is swollen, but I notice when I sleep and wake it is not swollen. It only swells during the day. I had a DVT done and it was negative. My primary care physician seem to think its edema. What should I do next?


It sounds like your primary care doctor has already starting working you up for the more serious causes of swelling in the legs. One of these is indeed a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clot in the veins of the leg. If this test was negative, then this is very reassuring. Additionally, your doctor will want to rule out any problems with your heart, such as heart failure or high blood pressure, which can also cause swelling in the legs. Assuming all of this testing is normal, then the most common non-serious cause of swelling in the legs is venous insufficiency, or varicose veins, caused by degeneration of the veins in the legs and their ability to carry blood back to the body. This typically causes exactly the pattern of swelling that you are noticing, that is gone in the morning and then worse at the end of the day. Most of the time venous insufficiency can be treated with simple measures, such as avoiding salt, elevating the legs, wearing compression stockings, and, occasionally, taking a diuretic medication. More severe cases may need referral to a surgeon. Your primary care doctor will be your best ally in figuring out what to do next!

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.