Varicose Veins Ankle Swelling: Causes and Treatment

An older woman holding her swollen ankle

After spending some time on your feet, you look down and notice your ankles feel uncomfortable and appear significantly bigger than they did this morning. What’s going on? 

If you have varicose veins anywhere on your legs, this can be a common cause of ankle vein swelling. What are the underlying reasons for varicose vein swollen ankles, and what treatments are available for this uncomfortable condition? 

How Varicose Veins Contribute to Ankle Swelling

Varicose veins, or venous insufficiency, are a condition in which veins are unable to properly pump blood back to the heart due to weakened or leaky valves. This occurs commonly in the legs and ankles, although it can happen anywhere in the body. 

When the veins are weak, blood pools in the feet and ankles, causing swelling, pain, and discomfort. If the blood continues to pool, this may also lead to discoloration of the feet and ankles. 

A swollen vein in the ankle is called corona phlebectatica and may cause bulging and ankle vein pain. Other symptoms to look out for if you have varicose veins in the ankles include [1]:

  • Aching in the legs, ankles, or feet
  • Bleeding from the veins
  • Restless legs
  • Rashes on the legs, ankles, or feet
  • Ulcers or sores near the ankles
  • Skin discoloration 
  • Thickening of the skin around the ankles
  • Warmness or tenderness in the ankles

If you have any of these symptoms in addition to swelling of the ankles, it is important to see a healthcare provider, as some of these symptoms may be signs of a bigger health problem. 

Identifying Other Potential Causes of Swollen Ankles

Other than varicose veins, there are other causes of swollen ankles. Medical conditions, age, stage of life, and certain lifestyle choices can cause your ankles to swell.

Medical conditions can cause swelling, also referred to as edema. Some of these include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Thyroid conditions
  • A compromised immune system
  • Obesity
  • Liver disease
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Medications for these conditions can also cause swelling around the ankles or feet [2]. If you believe your ankles are swollen due to a health problem, it is important to speak to your provider to rule out any concerns.

It’s more common to have ankle swelling as you age or if you’re pregnant. As you get older, veins weaken, so fluid builds up around the ankles, especially if you are sedentary. Pregnant women have increased blood volume, and the pressure on the feet and ankles as the baby grows can also cause ankles to swell [3].

Your lifestyle can cause ankle vein swelling. Sitting or standing in one place for too long is a common culprit [4]. It is common for ankles to swell during long airplane flights, especially if you don’t periodically stand up and move around. A job that requires standing for long hours in the same place can also cause ankle swelling. 

Are There Home Remedies for Managing Swollen Ankles?

Home remedies for managing swollen ankles will depend on the underlying cause of the swelling. Ankle swelling caused by varicose veins can be managed at home with compression therapy, which can help reduce the swelling. This can be a good option for those who are not ready for other types of interventions

If your ankles are swollen due to sitting or standing for long periods, then moving around or doing certain exercises can help. For example, if you are standing, try doing calf raises or wiggling your toes to keep the circulation moving. Standing on a supportive, shock-absorbing surface and wearing comfortable shoes can also help. 

There are other lifestyle changes to help manage varicose vein swollen ankles or ankles that are swollen for other reasons:

  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Lower sodium intake to be less than 2300 mg per day to reduce fluid retention
  • Drink enough water daily
  • Exercise regularly, at least 150 minutes per week
  • Maintain a healthy body weight

If you’ve changed your lifestyle yet continue to struggle with ankle vein swelling, then you may want to seek medical attention to determine the underlying cause and potential treatments. 

When to Seek Medical Advice for Swollen Ankles

Sometimes leg or ankle swelling can be the first sign of a more severe condition. You should seek emergency medical attention if you have swollen ankles as well as:

  • Severe pain in only one leg
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Chest pain

If the swelling is caused by a physical injury, such as a fall, it is also essential to seek medical advice immediately. If you don’t have any of the above symptoms, but an underlying medical condition causes your leg swelling or seems to be worsening, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider.

Professional Treatment Options for Varicose Veins and Swollen Ankles

The treatment for swollen ankles will depend on the underlying cause. If the swelling is caused by a medical condition or medication, it needs to be addressed by a healthcare provider. 

If varicose veins cause the ankle swelling, there are treatments available to help. At Empire Vein Specialists, we have many treatments that can alleviate pain and discomfort from varicose veins, including ankle vein swelling. We’re the top provider of VenaSeal™, the leading outpatient varicose vein treatment in the USA.

Many of our procedures do not require general anesthesia and can be performed by our team in the comfort of our office. Our board-certified physicians can help determine which treatment is best for you so you can feel confident that you will have lasting results.

To learn more about the treatments we offer, schedule a free consultation with an Empire Vein Specialist or call 1-800-VARICOSE (1-800-827-4267) today.


  1. Uhl, J.-F., Cornu-Thenard, A., Satger, B., & Carpentier, P. H. (2012). Clinical analysis of the corona phlebectatica. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 55(1), 150–153.
  2. Hennessy, M. M., & O’Brien, G. C. (2017). Gross-dependent lower limb lymphoedema. Clinical Case Reports, 5(2), 150–153.
  3. Morimoto, K., & O’Rourke, L. (2021). Third Trimester Lower Extremity Lymphorrhea. Case Reports in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2021, 3594923.
  4. Wall, R., Garcia, G., Läubli, T., Seibt, R., Rieger, M. A., Martin, B., & Steinhilber, B. (2020). Physiological changes during prolonged standing and walking considering age, gender and standing work experience. Ergonomics, 63(5), 579–592.