10 Causes of Feet and Ankle Swelling

10 Causes of Feet and Ankle Swelling

Swelling in the feet and ankles arises due to the accumulation of fluid and is known as Peripheral edema. It may involve the lower leg also. It can be unilateral or bilateral. It can be painless or with pain. There are several causes of peripheral edema, some of which are normal or others may be indicative of some underlying medical issue. Let us explore some possible causes of feet and ankle swelling.

  1. Foot and ankle injury– Most common cause of swollen feet and ankle is a Sprain of the ankle, which results from injury to the ligaments of the ankle. Other injuries include fractures of the foot or tendinitis.
  2. Prolonged periods of standing or sitting– Lack of muscle pumping action lead to fluid built up in feet and ankle.
  3. Lymphedema– In this condition, the lymphatic fluid accumulates in the tissues resulting from the absence of or blockage within the lymph vessels. It can also happen after the removal of lymph nodes.
  4. The infection of the foot and ankle can also cause swelling. People with peripheral neuropathy are at risk of infection.
  5. Venous insufficiency– When the veins are unable to pump blood adequately up to the heart due to weak or damaged valves leads to the pooling of blood in feet and ankle.
  6. Side-effects of certain medications like steroids, anti-depressants can also result in water retention and swelling. Discuss with your medical practitioner for the possible side effects of any medication that you are taking.
  7. Blood clots in the veins of the leg, which can be superficial or deep (DVT- Deep Vein Thrombosis).
  8. Pregnancy– It can happen in pregnancy due to fluctuating levels of hormones, high blood pressure, and increasing body weight.
  9. Some underlying medical conditions of the heart, lung, or liver -It can also lead to swelling in the feet and ankle.

Some tips to combat Feet and Ankle swelling-

  • Do some ankle pumps while lying down or in sitting with legs outstretched. Ensure that your heels are off the floor by placing a pillow or towel roll. Now, pull your feet towards you and then down so that toes are pointing away from you. Repeat 20 times, 3 -4 times a day.
  • Do calf stretches and straight leg raises.
  • Move around and do some light exercises to move your knees and ankles. It helps pump fluid from your legs back to your heart.
  • Put your feet up- Elevate your legs while lying down by placing pillows under your feet.
  • Soak your feet in lukewarm water with Epsom salt for 10-15min to reduce pain and swelling. After the feet and ankle injury, soak your feet in ice water.
  • Use compression or support socks.
  • Avoid standing and sitting for prolonged periods.
  • Maintain healthy body weight.
  • Maintain the right hydration levels.
  • Reduce your salt intake.
  • Massage is a way to provide relief to swollen feet. Ensure that you are massaging in the upward direction and not downwards.


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