May 8, 2009

Causes of Foot Swelling

Posted in Category : Bone, Joint & Muscles Disorders

Most often, swelling in the feet and ankles is harmless as it is often due to buildup of fluids in the tissues in the ankles, joints, and feet. Swollen feet can be triggered due to various conditions like pregnancy complications, sprained ankle, and infections like wounds, nail injuries or diabetic wounds. The other reasons could be heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, or diabetic complications.

Painless swelling can affect both legs and also affect calves and thighs, and due to the effect of gravity. It is important to note if the swelling affects both the legs or in just one limb. If swelling in foot occurs suddenly, it is essential to seek medical attention.

Health Reasons

The causes for swelling in foot, ankle and leg could be because of age, blood clots in the leg, being overweight, eating a poor diet high in salt and carbohydrates, pregnancy, birth control pills, use of hormone replacement therapy pills, sodium retention, preeclampsia, trauma, laxative abuse, drug abuse, muscle injury, or diuretic abuse. Trauma to ankle and foot can occur due to torn tendons, ligament tear or fractures. Chronic stress can lead to tendonitis, bursitis, or muscle strains, all potential causes for swelling in foot.

At times, veins in the blood are unable to pump blood back to the heart, and this can also cause the foot to swell. It is called venous insufficiency and can be noticed due to presence of varicose or spider veins and brown discoloration of the skin. Arthritis can also cause swelling in the joints. Osteoarthritis cause swelling in a single joint; gout a form of arthritis can cause very painful red swelling of the big toe joint. Long periods of standing or sitting like in airplane flights or car rides can also cause swelling in the feet.

Swelling During Pregnant

In women, swelling can occur due to menstrual cycles or if they are taking estrogen. It is quite normal during pregnancy for the feet to swell as there is more fluid retention with the baby growing and increase of pressure of veins. However, if there is sudden swelling during the 20 weeks of pregnancy, it can be a sign of preeclampsia, a condition where there is high blood pressure and protein in the urine increases. If you experience abdominal pain, headaches, nausea, vomiting, infrequent urination, or vision changes in addition to swelling in feet, it is important to call your doctor immediately.

Inflammation of bone joints in foot is due to collection of fluids around the joints. This can also cause swelling. The joints may also pain as there is excess fluid collection, and they may appear larger or abnormally shaped. This also causes stiffness and is an indication of tear in the ligament or muscle or a broken bone. In simple cases of bone joint swelling, you can always follow simple methods to heal inflammation of the bone joints in the foot.

  • You can keep the feet elevated while sleeping and rest your feet to improve circulation and drain the fluids.
  • Reduce your intake of salt as it contributes to fluid retention.
  • Use cold packs to bring relief.
  • Losing weight is important if you are overweight.
  • Use of support socks or stockings will help relieve bone joint swelling.
  • Exercise regularly as it helps improve blood circulation.
  • Avoid standing or sitting for long periods. If you are on a flight try walking in the plane for few minutes or if you are driving have periodic stops to stretch yourself.

If bone joint swelling or inflammation in the foot is due to other underlying illness or medication, it is imperative to seek medical advice without delay.