What is foot swelling?

Foot swelling is characterized by a buildup of fluid in your foot. A collection of excess fluid anywhere in the body is known as edema. Your entire foot or a portion of your foot may appear larger than normal. The swelling may be painless or accompanied by a variety of symptoms, including bruising, itchiness, pain, numbness, redness, stiffness and tenderness.

Foot swelling may be a symptom of a condition or an injury affecting the foot or the whole body. The severity of swelling largely depends on its underlying cause. For example, standing or sitting for extended periods may cause minor and temporary foot swelling. Severe swelling may be the result of an injury, such as a broken bone or sprain, or a medical condition, such as heart failure or arthritis.

The duration and course of foot swelling varies widely, depending on the cause. Swelling caused by injury often has a sudden onset. In other cases, foot swelling resulting from an underlying medical condition may develop slowly and persist or worsen over time.

Although life-threatening complications of foot swelling are rare, seek immediate medical care (call 911) for injuries that involve profuse bleeding or tissue damage.

Swollen feet and legs may be a sign of a serious condition, such as heart failure. Also, in rare cases, infections of the bone (osteomyelitis) or skin and soft tissues (cellulitis) of the foot can spread throughout the body, resulting in shock and organ failure. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if foot swelling is accompanied by serious symptoms, such as sudden chest pain or pressure, palpitations, a high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), or a change in level of consciousness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness.

If your foot swelling is persistent, recurrent, or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with foot swelling?

Foot swelling may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the feet may also involve other body systems.

Other foot symptoms that may occur along with foot swelling

Foot swelling may accompany other symptoms affecting the foot including:


What causes foot swelling?

Injury or damage to any of the structures in the foot can cause foot swelling. Diseases that affect the entire body, such as heart failure, arthritis, or vascular disease, can also lead to foot swelling.

Common injuries that can lead to foot swelling

A number of common injuries to the foot can cause foot swelling. These injuries include:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Injuries and Wounds

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