What causes an ankle lump?

Ankle lumps have many possible causes, including trauma, infections, inflammatory diseases, benign (noncancerous) cysts and tumors, and cancer.

Traumatic causes of ankle lumps

Minor to severe injuries and trauma can result in localized swelling or a lump in the ankle. Injuries include:

  • Ankle dislocation

  • Ankle sprain

  • Fracture (broken bone) in the foot, lower leg, or ankle

  • Hematoma (collection of blood in the tissues of the ankle)

  • Scar tissue from a previous injury or surgery

Infectious causes of ankle lumps

Infectious causes of ankle lumps or swelling include viral and bacterial infections. Left untreated, some of these diseases can lead to serious complications and secondary illnesses. Infections that cause ankle lumps include:

  • Abscesses

  • Boils

  • Cat scratch disease (infection caused by being scratched or bitten by a cat that carries the Bartonella henselae bacterium)

  • Cellulitis (invasive infection of the skin and surrounding tissues)

  • Infected wound on the ankle

Inflammatory and arthritic causes of ankle lumps

Ankle lumps or swelling can also be caused by different types of arthritis that affect the ankle joint such as:

  • Gout (type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints)

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (chronic system-wide autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation)

Tumor-related causes of ankle lumps

Benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous) tumors that can cause ankle lumps include:

  • Fibroma (benign tumor composed of fibrous or connective tissue; fibroma is very rare in the ankle)

  • Lipoma (benign fatty growth)

  • Nevi (moles of the skin)

  • Other forms of cancer

Other causes of ankle lumps

Ankle lumps can also be caused by other diseases, disorders and conditions such as:

  • Ganglion cyst (benign fluid-filled lump under the skin)

  • Hives on the ankle

  • Sting or bite injuries

  • Varicose veins

Questions for diagnosing the cause of an ankle lump

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care provider will ask you several questions related to your lump including:

  • How long have you had the lump?

  • Is the lump getting bigger or changing in any way?

  • Is the lump painful?

  • Are you experiencing any other symptoms along with the lump?

What are the potential complications of an ankle lump?

Ankle lumps can be due to serious diseases in some cases. Failure to seek treatment can result in complications depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Even a minor ankle injury that causes an ankle lump should be examined by a doctor to ensure a correct diagnosis, proper treatment, and prevention of further injury during the healing process. Once the underlying condition is diagnosed, following the treatment plan you and your healthcare provider develop specifically for you will minimize the risk of complications including:

  • Abscess

  • Chronic pain

  • Gangrene or tissue death and amputation of the foot

  • Loss of mobility and disability

  • Permanent deformity of the ankle, foot, or lower leg

  • Spread of cancer

  • Spread of infection to the blood


What is an ankle lump?

An ankle lump is a protuberance or localized area of swelling in the ankle. Other general terms used to describe ankle lumps include ankle bump, nodule, contusion, tumor or cyst.... Read more about ankle lumpintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with an ankle lump?

An ankle lump may be accompanied by other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. An ankle lump may be accompanied by other symptoms including:... Read more about ankle lumpsymptoms

Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD Last Annual Review Date: Jul 1, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Injuries and Wounds

Popular Injuries and Wounds Slide Show