Foot and Ankle Swelling: Causes, Tips and When to See Your Doctor

As temperatures rise, one common problem many face is swollen feet and ankles. Swelling is usually caused by an accumulation of fluid: this is sometimes referred to by your Podiatrist as oedema. 

Typically, you develop oedema as fluid leaks from tiny blood vessels called capillaries into the surrounding tissue. When this occurs, your feet and ankles are particularly prone to swelling due to the effect of gravity making it difficult for your circulatory system to carry the build-up of fluid up and away. 

When you experience swelling, oftentimes it is not life threatening but more so due to an underlying issue that can be fully addressed, however; there are some scenarios where persistent and unmanageable swelling needs to be addressed by an expert.

Common Causes of Swollen Feet and Ankles

  • Hot weather – when temperatures rise, your blood vessels expand in order to allow heat to escape to help cool you down. Sometimes however, fluid can easily escape too and flood your tissue causing swelling.
  • Being overweight – excess and unwanted weight can put your lower extremities and limbs under circulation strain causing fluid build up.
  • Too much salt – surprisingly we are not here to tell you “salt is bad”, however; too much salt can throw out the balance of salt/water ratio in the body and heavily contribute to swelling. We suggest switching out your home salt to a natural rock salt with minerals such as Himalayan Pink Salt. Be mindful of your sodium intake each day. 
  • Sitting or standing for long periods – being stationary leads to poorer circulation and fluid pooling in your feet and ankles.
  • Aging – as you get older, your circulatory system gets weaker. You’re therefore more susceptible to swollen feet and ankles. 
  • Side effects of some medications – you may develop oedema when taking certain prescription drugs, such as steroids and blood pressure tablets. swelling due to this should be closely monitored by your Doctor.
  • Pregnancy – a pregnant Mother’s body retains more water than usual. The weight of the baby can impair the circulation in her lower limbs, making swollen feet and ankles more likely.

10 Summer Foot Care Tips for 2021

Tips for Reducing the Swelling at Home

There are many ways you can try to relieve swollen feet and ankles from the comfort of your own home. The aim is to boost your circulation and encourage blood vessels to reabsorb the fluid and carry it away.

  • Raise your feet and ankles a little above heart level – lie down and rest your legs on pillows for 30 minutes or so and allow gravity to help move the pooled fluid.
  • Massage swollen areas – apply light pressure, working upwards from your feet.
  • DIY foot bath – this can greatly affect blood flow and help to relax the swollen areas. Try this DIY Foot Soak for Tired and Achy Feet at home and let us know what you think – 
  • Take regular breaks if you have to stand or sit for long hours – we suggest taking a break every 30 minutes from standing and/or sitting to prevent stagnation.
  • Stay well hydrated – oddly enough, if you are dehydrated your body will try to hold on to more fluid than it should to try to survive. Drink as much water as you can throughout the day to help push fluids through your system. Never leave the house without a water bottle!
  • Establish a light morning routine – Keep your joints mobile with this easy morning routine that you can do in bed, before your feet even hit the floor!
  • Wear comfortable, breathable shoes and clothes– when swelling occurs, be mindful and intentional about your footwear and clothing. Never try to squeeze a swollen foot into a shoe or swollen legs into pants that are too tight. Do your best to give your body the room it needs during a time of swelling. Reduce any other stress factors that can contribute. 

When to See a Podiatrist for Swelling

At-home remedies can help you to manage foot and ankle swelling, but if the problem lasts more than a few days or you find that the swelling has been painful or unmanageable, it is time to see your Podiatrist. Good News: swelling is something that our Doctor can typically treat through telemedicine.

Our Doctor will fully assess where the swelling is coming from and how it can be treated and managed moving further. Most times natural approaches are taken first such as compression garments and over the counter aids however, if swelling is due to a more serious underlying condition further testing will be necessary to establish the root cause and give the proper treatment. 

There’s a small chance that foot and ankle swelling points to a life-threatening condition such as a blood clot. If your swelling is sudden and severe, is accompanied by other symptoms such as pain or affects only one side of the body, please seek emergency medical assistance. 


Foot and Ankle Telemedicine

Foot and Ankle Telemedicine

We are now offering TELEMEDICINE as part of our practice. To learn more CLICK HERE!

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Lake Oconee, GA 706-999-9994

West Augusta, GA 706-597-0102

Madison, GA 706-999-9994