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10 Causes of Swollen Feet or Ankles

Sometimes there’s an obvious, no-big-deal reason for swollen feet or ankles. But sometimes, swelling in your lower limbs can signal serious problems that have nothing to do with your lower limbs! At Clifton Foot & Ankle Center, we encourage our patients not to ignore their swollen feet and to understand the difference between predictable swelling and unexpected swelling that needs medical attention.

Here are ten reasons for swelling:

  1. Trauma  – a fall, car accident, or another sudden injury
  2. Recovery from surgery – some swelling is perfectly normal after foot or ankle surgery
  3. Lack of movement – when you sit or stand for long periods, fluid can pool in your lower limbs and cause edema, another word for swelling
  4. In women, pregnancy or regular monthly periods can cause fluid to build-up
  5. Certain medications bring side effects that cause fluid retention
  6. Tendonitis, an overuse injury of the soft tissues (tendons)
  7. Stress fracture – a cracked bone, often accompanied by bruising
  8. A heart problem – fluid buildup in the ankles may mean that your heart isn’t pumping sufficiently
  9. Kidney or liver malfunction
  10. Blood vessel blockage, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) or a deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Treat foot or ankle swelling that you know is normal (“it must be that new medication I’m taking” or “I’ve been on my feet way too long today”) by propping up your feet. If you’ve been inactive for a long time, try walking around to move fluids away from your lower limbs. Remove any tight clothing that might be restricting the flow of blood to your feet. The swelling should subside within a few hours.

Recurring or mysterious swelling should be evaluated by our board-certified podiatrist, Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm. Seek medical advice immediately for swelling that comes on suddenly and is accompanied by severe pain or fever. For more information about foot and ankle swelling or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Wilhelm, call us in Centreville, Virginia (Fairfax County) at (703) 996-3000. We also welcome your inquiries online.

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