What Can Cause Swollen Feet or a Swollen Foot?

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What could be causing your swollen feet?

It has happened to us all. At the end of the day, just as you are ready to put your feet up, you are surprised when you remove your shoes. Your feet are swollen, and they carry the imprints of your shoes’ stitches and lines. It is not uncommon to have swollen feet if you have been walking and standing for a large part of the day. It usually is not a cause for concern. However, if your feet and ankles remain swollen, it could be a sign of a health condition.

It is beneficial to know the possible reasons why your feet or ankles are swollen.

The Possible Causes of Swollen Feet

Complications due to pregnancy

It is common for pregnant women to experience some swelling in their feet and ankles. However, sudden or excessive swelling may be a sign of preeclampsia, a severe condition that is found after the 20th week of pregnancy, in which high blood pressure and protein in the urine develop. If you experience severe swelling or swelling along with these symptoms, you should call your doctor immediately:

abdominal pain
infrequent urination
changes in your vision

An injury

If you have injured your foot or your ankle, it can lead to swelling. The most common of these injuries to cause swelling is a sprained ankle. When ligaments that hold the foot and ankle in place are stretched beyond their normal range, a sprained ankle occurs.

You can reduce the swelling caused by a foot or ankle injury by resting and avoid walking on the injured ankle or foot. Furthermore, you can use ice packs, wrap the foot or ankle with a compression bandage, and keep the foot elevated on a stool or pillow. However, it is essential to see your doctor if the swelling and pain intensifies and show no improvement after 48 hours.


Lymphedema is the collection of lymphatic fluid in the tissues. It is a condition that can develop after lymph nodes have been removed or if there are problems with the lymph vessels. Lymph is a protein-rich fluid that typically travels along an extensive network of vessels and capillaries. It is filtered through the lymph nodes. The lymph nodes trap and destroy substances that are unwanted, such as bacteria. However, there can be a blockage of the fluid’s movement when there is a problem with the vessels or lymph nodes. If left untreated, buildup in the lymph nodes can prevent wounds from healing and lead to infections and, in extreme cases, deformity. Lymphedema is typical after radiation therapy or the removal of the lymph nodes in patients because of cancer. If you are experiencing swelling and have undergone cancer treatments, contact your doctor.

Venous insufficiency

Venous insufficiency is caused when blood moves inadequately up the veins from the feet and legs to the heart. An early symptom of venous insufficiency is the swelling of the ankles and feet. Typically, the veins keep your blood flowing upward with valves that offer a one-way flow. However, when these valves are damaged or weak, the blood leaks back down the vessels. The fluid is retained in the soft tissue of the lower legs. This is seen mainly in the ankles and feet. Chronic venous insufficiency can lead to changes in the skin, skin ulcers, and infection. Therefore, if you experience any symptoms of venous insufficiency, you should contact your doctor.


It can be a sign of infection if you experience sudden swelling in your feet and ankles. People who have nerve problems of the feet or diabetic neuropathy are at greater risk for foot infections. If you have diabetes, it is important to inspect your feet daily for sores or blisters. This is because nerve damage can blunt the pain sensation, which can lead to foot problems. If you see that your feet are swollen, or you have blisters on your feet, see your doctor right away.

Blood clots

Blood costs can form in the veins of the legs that can prevent the return blood flow from the legs to the heart. It can cause swelling in the ankles and feet. Blood clots can either occur in the veins just beneath the skin or be a condition known as deep vein thrombosis. Deep clots can easily block one or more of the prominent veins of the legs. If blood clots break loose and move to the heart and lungs, they can be life-threatening. If you have these symptoms, you should see your doctor right away:

swelling in one leg
pain in the same leg
low-grade fever
a color change in the affected leg

Disease of the heart, liver, or kidney

Heart, kidney, or liver disease can sometimes be indicated by swelling of the feet. For example, ankles that swell in the evening could be a sign of retaining salt and water because of right-sided heart failure. Swelling in the foot or ankle can also be caused by kidney disease. Fluid can accumulate in the body when kidneys are not functioning well. Liver disease can affect the production of the liver of a protein called albumin. This can keep the blood from leaking out of the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues. Fluid leakage can be caused by inadequate albumin production. Fluids tend to accumulate more in the feet because of gravity, but it is not uncommon for fluid to gather in the chest. If these symptoms accompany your swelling, contact your doctor:

loss of appetite
weight gain,
shortness of breath
chest pain
pressure or tightness of the chest


A bit of swelling in your feet shouldn’t have you tiptoeing in panic. However, if you are experiencing some swelling, keep a close eye on it. If your feet continue to be swollen after a day, it is a good idea to see your doctor as soon as possible. Good foot care is always beneficial and helps to ensure that you are light on your feet from morning to night.

Even though a foot injury isn’t often life-threatening, it is advised to take good care of your feet. Foot pain doesn’t have to mean that you’ll never be a few steps ahead again. You may also like to consider diabetic socks such as our own ShapedUp design diabetic comfort socks.

We hoped you found this small article informative but if you want to add anything else please do tell us in the comments below. Well Heeled is always looking to expand upon the information shared so we love to hear from you the reader!

About Me

Founder of Well Heeled - I have a great interest in diabetes and the effect on those diagnosed as well as those around them. With over 20 years in health and social care, as a qualified social worker and as a passionate educator within the health and social care sector, I wanted to bring further information to others around diabetes and other issues.

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