Painful, Hard, Soft, Fatty, Itchy Ankle Lump: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Injuries are perhaps the most common causes of ankle lumps. In most cases, injury-related lumps are painful and accompanied by swelling. Diseases such as arthritis and benign tumors like lipomas may also develop around the ankles and lead to formation of lumps.

Ankle lump treatment varies depending on the cause and severity. Sometimes, simple home treatment such as the RICE protocol is all you require. It is advisable, however, to see a doctor for diagnosis confirmation. This article discusses common causes of ankle lumps, their symptoms and treatment options. Remember that online information should not replace what your doctor has instructed you to do.

Painful lump on ankle causes

Ankle sprain or dislocation

The tibia and the talus are the main bones that form the upper part of the ankle joint. When either or both are no longer in their normal location, ankle dislocation occurs. A rolled ankle lump often occurs in this manner. Severe ankle dislocations involve bone fractures. Ankle sprain occurs after you have twisted your ankle to the extent of stretching or tearing ligaments. These forms of ankle injuries cause pain and swelling. If the Achilles tendon is involved, a painful lump in calf muscle may also develop.

Boils and abscesses

Boils are not very common but can develop on the ankle or on top of the foot. They start as red bumps that quickly fill with pus. The average lifetime of a boil is 5 days, after which it may burst open or crust over. A large boil or a pus-filled wound is known as an abscess. A lump inside earlobe after piercing can be an abscess.

Hard bony lump foot by ankle

Quite a number of causes can be responsible for a hard or bony lump on foot by the ankle. They include:

Ganglion cysts

These are noncancerous, firm and rubbery lumps that develop along joints or tendons. Apart from ankles, these growths can also develop on hands and knees. Ganglion cysts form round or oval lumps containing a thick jelly-like fluid. Small ones are pea-sized while large ones can reach the size of a golf ball. Normally, these growths are not painful. They can, however, press against a nerve or a blood vessel and cause pain. Treatment is not always necessary but bothersome ones can be surgically removed.

Bone spurs

Foot and heel bone spurs are common causes of lumps on the back of the ankle. They can develop after abnormal healing of an ankle injury or due to diseases such as osteoarthritis. Normally, bone spurs develop on surfaces of bones as a result of reduced cartilage. Foot and heel bone spurs cause pain when walking or standing.

Arthritis or gout

Osteoarthritis causes wear and tear of cartilage. Hard lumps under the ankle bone may form as a result. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects most joints. It is characterized by hard nodules in joints and swelling. Gout is caused by accumulation of uric acid around joints. It is quite painful and also causes joint inflammation.

Bone growths

Bone growths can be malignant or benign. There are several types of bone growths but giant cell tumor is most common in the leg.

Corns and calluses

Corns and calluses mostly develop on the toes but can also occur on ankles. They are caused by repeated friction such as caused by ill-fitting shoes.

Other possible causes of lump on foot by ankle

Irritants and allergens

Irritants such as nickel and acids can lead to itchy lumps on the foot by the ankle. The same can happen after ingesting a food product you are allergic to. Irritants usually cause immediate reactions, while allergens can take a while. Allergens also tend to cause multiple swellings. For example, you can have a small white lump under tongue or hives on different parts of your body due to an allergic reaction.


A lipoma is a fatty lump that grows on fatty tissues under the skin. Lipomas are noncancerous and generally harmless. They can, however, grow large enough to cause pain if they press against a nerve. If that happens, your doctor can have them removed surgically. A lipoma usually forms a round or oval, rubbery, soft lump that easily moves when pressed. It is possible to have a lipoma soft lump on collarbone or any other part of the body.


A hematoma is an abnormal collection of blood outside blood vessels. Hematomas are very common after injury. They form when blood leaks from damaged blood vessels and clots under the skin. Rarely do they require medical attention. A lump on bone after bruise that forms immediately after an injury indicates bone fractures and should be treated by a doctor.


These are growths that originate in connective tissues. They are fairly rare in the ankle. Fibromas are benign and painless.


These are harmless lumps caused by growth of blood vessels. They are common in lower extremities. Hemangiomas sometimes cause pain and swelling.


Moles are harmless skin growths that are red-brown in most cases. Melanoma (a rare but deadly skin cancer) usually starts in form of mole-like lumps. You are therefore advised to check with your doctor if a mole on your skin changes size, shape, color or texture.

Diseases and infections

Diseases such as cellulitis cause inflammation of skin tissues. Cellulitis occurs when bacteria enter the body through cracks or open wounds on skin. It rapidly spreads to surrounding tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of joints. Lump on right and left side of neck, groin area and armpits accompanied by joint swelling is a common symptom of lupus. An infection known as cat scratch disease can also cause swelling on the foot by the ankle. This is an infection caused by being bitten or scratched by a cat. Diseases and infections are always accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills and general weakness. See your doctor if such symptoms occur.

Ankle lump treatment

Ankle lump treatment can be done in a hospital or at home.

In a hospital, lumps and tumors can be surgically removed. This is the most effective treatment, for it ensures that the lumps will not grow back. Other treatment options include drainage, use of anti-inflammatory medications and management plans for diseases such as arthritis.

Bone spurs and tumors may require extensive treatment options. This is especially true for malignant tumors. The one fact that will remain is that there are higher chances of effective treatment if diagnosis is done the earliest possible.

At home, you can try options such as a cold compress. A cold compress works best when used immediately after an injury. It works by reducing blood flow and swelling. A warm compress works by dilating blood vessels to encourage blood flow. Blood flow is essential when recovering from an injury or a wound.

Other home remedies you can try include Epsom salt baths, aloe vera, turmeric and essential oils. It is always good to consult your doctor when a lump doesn’t respond to home treatments.

When to see a doctor

Cancerous masses are quite rare in the lower extremities. All the same, cancer is not the only disease that requires medical attention. Diseases such as arthritis get worse with time and no treatment. Infections such as cellulitis are life-threatening if not treated early enough. Much the same can be said about a handful other diseases. Benign tumors are not life-threatening but can become bothersome over time.

See your doctor immediately if a lump on or near your ankle is accompanied by signs of infection, diseases or malignancy. For benign masses, seek medical attention if the lump is causing discomfort to an extent that you would wish it removed.

Ensure that you can correctly identify the cause of a lump on any part of your body. If that is not the case, see your doctor for medical diagnosis.