Cankles is a slag term combining the words claves and ankles. The term describes a lack of definition between the calf and the ankle, giving them the appearance of merging. If you don’t have a condition that causes swelling, cankels, aren’t a health concern. Exercise physiologist Rich Weil, director of the New York center weight loss program, says, “Cankles is not a medical term, nor is it a medical condition.”

How do cankles look, and are they unhealthy?

Cankles mean that the bottom of the calves and the ankles blend to appear as one. This can be just how your legs and ankles naturally look due to your genetics and development, and it’s not necessarily an unhealthy or dangerous condition. People across the spectrum of the body weight may have cankles.

If your ankles have recently become swollen, you could have a problem that needs medical attention. Along with your ankles, this swelling could also affect your feet, legs, or other body parts.

What is Edema?

An abnormal build-up of fluid causes Edena’s swelling in the tissues. When it affects the arms and legs, it’s called peripheral edema. Cankles can be caused by edema in the ankles. Which may also affect the feet and legs.


Factors that can cause or contribute to a lack of definition between the lower calf and ankle include:


An underlying health condition

Other factors that may cause the ankles to swell


As with other physical traits, genetics may influence the size and shape of the calves and ankles. Some people have naturally larger bones, muscles, or tendons in the ankles, all of which may contribute to the appearance of cankles.

Health conditions

The following health conditions can cause swelling in the calves or ankles, which may give the appearance of cankles:


Carrying excess weight can put a strain on the ankles and other weight-bearing joints, causing them to swell.


This condition can affect circulation, causing fluid to pool in the feet and ankles.


An infection in the lower legs, ankles, or feet can cause swelling in these areas. People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing infections in the lower extremities.


A common bacterial skin infection that can occur when there is an open wound in the skin. The infection may cause swelling, redness, and pain in the affected area.

Venous insufficiency:

A condition in which the valves inside the veins do not send blood back to the heart effectively. The blood “leaks” in the opposite direction to blood flow, pooling in the lower legs and ankles.

Congestive heart failure (CHF):

This condition affects the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, Which may cause blood to pool in the lower legs, ankles, and feet.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT):

This condition involves a blood clot within a deep vein, typically in the leg. It can develop quickly, is accompanied by pain and redness, and requires rapid medical attention.


A chronic disease that leads to abnormal fat distribution, particularly below the waist.

Kidney problems:

The kidney helps remove waste products from the blood and balance sodium and potassium levels. Poor kidneys can lead function to sodium retention, which may cause swelling in the ankles.

Liver disease:

Issues with the liver, such as cirrhosis, can cause fluid retention in the legs, ankles, and feet.

Cankles vs. non-cankles

Typically ankles tap off from the calf, giving a more noticeable distinction between the two areas. Cankles have a more continuous appearance straight through, making it less obvious where the calf ends and the ankles begin.

Cankles do not necessarily mean there is something medically wrong, but they could have a medical cause, such as:

Temporary water retention

A chronic health condition

An allergic reaction or adverse side effect of medication

An acute medical problem

Another health concern


The treatment for cankles depends on the cause. People who have naturally larger ankles due to genetics will not require medical treatment. However, those with swollen ankles may require treatment, depending on the cause of the swelling.



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