Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
Your feet carry your entire body weight but are the most neglected part of your body. When you start to ignore basic foot care this is when you start to see problems with your feet, including swelling. When you have swelling in any part of your body it is usually referred to as edema which basically means that there is a buildup of fluid in that area. If the edema happens in your feet, legs, or ankles it is referred to as peripheral edema.
Swollen Feet Symptoms
Although having swollen feel is characterized primarily by having excessive fluid in your feet there may also be other secondary symptoms. Some of these secondary symptoms can include:
- Having the feeling of a “burning” sensation
In addition, depending on what is causing swollen feet, there may be bruising, having difficulty putting weight on your foot or moving it, or bleeding.
Causes of Swollen Feet
When trying to decide what is the cause of swollen feet there are different factors that must be taken into consideration as there are several potential causes. Some of the factors that you need to know before a cause can be found. Those factors include:
- How long the swelling had occurred
- How severe is the swelling
- Are there any known underlying medical conditions and if yes, what are they
The answers to these questions, or factors, is very important to know because of large amount of causes for swollen feet
Some of the common causes of having swollen feet can include:
- Being pregnant
- Weight issues, obesity
- Consumption of too much salt
- Advanced age
- Trauma or injury to your foot
- Sitting or standing for too long of a time.
Other causes can include:
Trauma or injury
- The rupture of a tendon, especially your Achilles heel
- Having a sprained ankle
- Broken bones in your great toe or foot
- Dislocation of bones in your great toe or feet
- Sports injuries
- Insect bites
- Inflammation of your blood vessels
- Plantar warts
- Nail infections
- Skin ulcers
- Plantar fasciitis
- Infection of the bone
- Diabetic medication
- Some anti-depressants,
- Calcium channel blockers
- High-estrogen birth control pill
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Congestive heart failure which is when your heart loses its ability to pump your blood effectively and if it is difficult for the blood in your feet to circulate back to the heart it can back up in your feet causing swelling
- Cirrhosis which is the scarring of your liver and if your liver function is compromised it can cause fluid to accumulate in your legs, causing your feet to swell.
- Kidney failure
- Vein damage in your legs
- Lymphedema which is a blockage in your lymphatic system causes the interstitial fluid to backup
Emergency related that require immediate medical intervention:
- Heart, liver, or kidney failure
- Blood clots
If your swollen feet are accompanied by any of these emergency intervention is absolutely required:
- Sudden pain in your chest
Treatment for Swollen Feet
The treatment for your swollen feet depends on what is the cause. If you ignore the swelling and it is not reduced it could cause serious consequences like:
- Blood circulation is decreased
- Having difficulty in walking
- Have a risk of infection
- An increase In pain
- Scarring of the tissues of your feet
If you are a diabetic you should check your feet regularly, especially if you notice your feet are swelling, for sores and blisters. If any are present you should call your physician immediately.
Swollen feet during pregnancy
It is very common for a woman who is pregnant to have swollen feet. Some women experience swollen feet from the second trimester to birth while others only have edema, or swollen feet, during the last month of their pregnancy. The reason that pregnant women suffer from swollen feet is that while pregnant, their uterus puts a lot of pressure on the inferior vena cava, which is a large vein in the heart that brings blood from parts of the lower body, including your pelvis and abdomen, that is deoxygenated and is being brought to your heart to be oxygenated. When this happens it causes the blood to pool. The pressure buildup then causes the fluid from the tissues to accumulate in your feet.
Another medical condition that is associated with pregnancy is called Pre-eclampsia which is the constriction of your blood vessels that causes your blood pressure to rise. This is a dangerous medical condition because when your blood vessels are constricted there is less blood flow to the uterus. When this happens the fetus is not getting the right nutrients or sufficient oxygen. This condition not only makes your feet and ankles swell but it can also extend to your hands and face.
Some the home remedies that you can try include:
- Elevating your feet
- Applying ice or cold compresses
- Stretching your ankle and foot to help improve blood circulation
- Keep being mobile so that the fluids do not pool in your lower limbs and avoid standing or sitting in one place for several hours. Make sure that you move around or take time to stretch.
- Wearing compression stockings. Make sure that you put them on before you get up and start moving around in the morning and then take them off before you go to bed.
- Maintain a weight that is healthy
- Reduce your salt intake to not only help to reduce the fluid in your feet but also to help lower your blood pressure
- Wear footwear that is non-constrictive
- Include exercise in your daily routine, especially leg exercises to help improve the circulation of your blood
You want to make sure that you do not constrict or bind your feet as your blood circulation is already decreased and you want to make sure that you do not make the situation worse.
During pregnancy if you experience swollen feet here are some home remedies that can help with that problem.
- Drink at six to eight glasses of water every day to help flush out any excess toxins from your body that would otherwise settle in your feet and cause them to swell. Drinking this much water will probably increase the frequency of urination but that is also a good way to get rid of the wastes from your body.
- Do not stand in one position for a long period of time so make sure that you move around.
- If you live in a hot climate or are pregnant during the summer try to avoid going out as much as you can, especially if it is extremely hot. The reason is that the hot temperatures will reduce the water content of your body but it can also cause your feet to swell.
- Make sure that you are eating a well balanced diet so there is less of a chance of having undigested toxic wastes in your body and cause your feet to swell.
When sitting or sleeping try to elevate your feet so the fluid does not pool in your feet.