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5 Reasons Why Your Feet and Ankles May Be Swollen

It’s not uncommon, especially as we grow older, for ankles and feet to become swollen due to abnormal fluid build up in the lower extremities.

In fact, at Delray Beach Podiatry, Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, continues to see countless patients walk through his doors complaining of issues related to swelling.

And although there are numerous reasons why your feet and ankles could be swollen, here are five in particular to look out for:


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1)Foot or Ankle Injury

Any injury to the foot or ankle often results in at least some degree of swelling. One of the most common injuries is a sprained ankle, which occurs when an injury or misstep causes the ligaments that hold the ankle in place to be stretched beyond their normal range.

All ligaments have a specific range of motion and boundaries that allow them to keep the joints stabilized. When ligaments surrounding the ankle are pushed past these boundaries, it causes a sprain. In addition to pain, tenderness, and bruising, swelling is one of several symptoms most often associated with sprains.

In order to reduce the swelling from a foot or ankle injury, it’s important to rest and elevate the injury while also utilizing ice packs and compression bandages. If swelling and pain is severe or doesn’t improve with home treatment, then it’s time to see your doctor.

2)Venous Insufficiency

Venous insufficiency, also known as chronic venous insufficiency or chronic venous stasis, occurs when the veins in your body have problems sending blood from the legs back to the heart.

Normally, the veins in your lower extremities keep blood moving forward toward the heart. If you are suffering from venous insufficiency, however, the vein walls are weakened and valves are damaged which causes fluid to pool in the legs and the lower extremities to swell up.

If left untreated, chronic venous insufficiency tends to get worse over time. It can, however, be managed if treatment is started in the early stages. And although self-care steps can potentially ease some discomfort and prevent the condition from getting worse, it is more than likely that you will a need medical procedure, such as radiofrequency closure, to treat the condition.

3)Blood clot

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein located deep inside your body. A clot is a clump of blood that has changed from a liquid state to a gelatinous like solid state. Deep vein blood clots typically form in your thigh or lower leg, but they can also develop in other areas of your body.

These blood clots can be life-threatening if they break loose and travel to the heart and lungs. If you have swelling in one leg, along with pain and a low-grade fever, call your doctor immediately.

DVT treatments focus on keeping the clot from growing. In addition, treatment will attempt to prevent a pulmonary embolism and lower your risk of having more clots.


While everyone is susceptible to infections, those suffering from diabetic neuropathy or other nerve problems of the feet are at greater risk for foot infections that can result in minor to serious swelling.

If you have diabetes, it is important to inspect feet daily for blisters and sores, because nerve damage can blunt the pain sensation and foot problems can progress quickly.

If you notice a swollen foot or blister that appears to be infected, contact your doctor right away.


Lymphedema is defined by a blockage in the lymphatic system, which causes excess lymph fluid to collect in the tissues resulting in swollen feet and ankles. It can be caused by a number of things such as infection or injury.

The severity of lymphedema is classified into stages:

  • Stage 1: This is the mildest form. Your limb is usually normal size in the morning, but swells during the day.
  • Stage 2: This stage is moderate. It’s characterized by an irreversible form of swelling in which your limb tissue feels spongy to the touch.
  • Stage 3: This is the most severe stage. It involves an irreversible form of edema in which your affected limb hardens and becomes very large.

The outlook for lymphatic obstruction varies for each person. In most cases, you’ll deal with some level of swelling on a regular basis.

See a doctor!

Swollen feet or legs have many minor and temporary causes, but they can also be an indication of a much more serious problem with your heart, kidney, liver or blood vessels, so be sure to consult your doctor to determine the cause.

Follow Delray Beach Podiatry on Twitter @Delray_Podiatry

The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from without seeking professional medical advice. If you live in South Florida and would like a consultation with Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, please see our contact information below:


16244 S. Military Trail #290, Delray Beach, FL 33445



8198 Jog Road #100, Boynton Beach, FL 33472



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