What causes cankles?

Author: Garnet Orthopedic Solutions |

What causes cankles

"Cankles" is a slang term incorporating the words calves and ankles. The term defines a lack of definition between the calf bone and the ankle, which gives the appearance of them merging together. Individuals may have “cankles” for various reasons. Some individuals may have normally bigger ankle joints, others may experience ankle swelling as a result of a hidden wellness problem or elements such as maternity, warm weather condition, or extended standing or resting. Sometimes, inflamed ankle joints might be awkward or perhaps uncomfortable and also require medical attention. Reasons that create or contribute to “cankles” include:


Just like various other physical attributes, genes may affect the size and shape of the calves and ankles. Some people have normally larger bones, muscles, or ligaments in the ankle joints, every one of which may contribute to the look of “cankles”.

Health problems:

Adhering to health conditions can trigger swelling in the calves or ankle joints, which may give the appearance of “cankles”:

1) Excessive weight: Carrying additional weight can place a stress on the ankle joints and various other weight-bearing joints, causing them to swell.

2) Diabetes: This problem can influence blood circulation, creating fluid to pool in the feet as well as the ankles.

3) Infections: An infection in the blood, legs, ankle joints, or feet can trigger swelling in these locations. Individuals with diabetic issues are at an increased risk of developing infections in the lower extremities.

4) Cellulitis: A common skin infection that can take place when there is an open wound in the skin. The infection might create swelling, inflammation, and also discomfort in the damaged location.

5) Venous insufficiency: A problem in which the shutoffs inside the veins do not send blood back to the heart successfully. The blood "leaks" in the opposite direction to blood circulation, merging in the lower legs as well as ankles.

6) Congestive heart failure (CHF): This condition impacts the heart's ability to pump blood successfully, which might create blood to pool in the lower legs, ankle joints, and feet.

7) Deep capillary apoplexy or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): This problem includes an embolism within a deep capillary, usually in the leg. It can be established promptly, is accompanied by pain and soreness, and also requires rapid clinical focus.

8) Lipedema: A chronic condition that results in unusual fat circulation, specifically below the midsection.

9) Lymphedema: A condition in which the lymphatic system ends up being damaged or obstructed, triggering lymph fluid to collect in the body's cells. It usually takes place because of cancer or cancer treatment.

10) Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid can cause fluid retention and is linked to swelling in various parts of the body, commonly the ankles.

11) Cushing's disorder: A possibly serious condition including an excess amount of the hormone cortisol in the body. It may trigger fluid retention and swelling.

12) Kidney problems: The kidneys help get rid of waste products from the blood and also balance sodium and potassium levels. Poor kidney function can cause salt retention, which might create swelling in the ankles.

Other more common aspects that can create swelling of the lower legs and also ankle joints consist of: maternity, medications (such as the contraceptive pill), hormonal agent therapy, and medications such as steroids or antidepressants.

If one does not have the issues mentioned above, then "cankles" most likely appear due to injuries or overuse repetitive strain. When injuries occur, depending on the severity, most will notice bruising or hematoma caused by strains or sprains to soft tissue. However, many people notice swelling when standing in one position for long periods of time, or when weight bearing.


Individuals that have naturally larger ankles because of genetics will not need medical treatment. Nevertheless, those with swollen ankle joints might call for treatment, depending upon the root cause of the swelling.

There are therapies for underlying clinical conditions, each case representing different solutions depending on necessity or condition represented. If one is suffering from the above mentioned conditions they should rely on the medical advice they receive from the specialist they are seeing for said condition. Other less abrasive treatments can range from working out to increase blood circulation, raising the feet when possible, compression socks and/or receiving a proper gait and posture assessment to find out if irritation or inflammation is caused by a biomechanical insufficiency; which may be corrected with an orthotic device.

If an assessment is needed, or you are interested in a professional opinion, please contact us at Garent Orthopedic Solutions for a complete evaluation!