Foot swelling

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Foot swelling is characterized as the accumulation of fluid in the foot. The buildup of excess fluid in any part of the body is called edema. The entire foot or only a region appears bigger than normal. The swelling might be painless or accompanied by various symptoms including itchiness, bruising, pain, redness, numbness, tenderness and stiffness.

The foot swelling might be an indication of an injury or condition affecting the foot or the entire body. The severity of the swelling depends on the underlying cause. The length and course of the swelling varies widely depending on the cause. The swelling due to injury often has an abrupt onset. In some cases, foot swelling from an underlying condition develops slowly and worsens over time.

What are the accompanying symptoms?

Foot swelling might be accompanied by other symptoms that tends to vary depending on the underlying cause. The usual symptoms might include the following:

  • Burning sensation
    Foot swelling
    Damage or injury to any of the foot structures results to swelling.
  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Itchiness
  • Diminished or absent pulse
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Difficulty moving the foot, toes or ankles
  • Numbness
  • Lumps or nodules
  • Pain or tenderness
  • Stiffness
  • Warmth or redness
  • Tingling or other unusual sensations

Causes of foot swelling

Damage or injury to any of the foot structures results to swelling. Certain diseases that affect other bodily systems such as arthritis, heart failure or vascular disease can also cause swelling.

  • Broken foot or toe
  • Ankle sprain
  • Presence of bone or cartilage fragments inside the joint space
  • Dislocation
  • Puncture wound
  • Insect bite allergy
  • Sports injuries
  • Septic arthritis
  • Tendon rupture
  • Stress fractures
  • Turf toe

When to seek medical care

Even though the life-threatening causes of foot swelling are rare, all significant injuries require immediate assessment in the nearest emergency department. In some instances, foot swelling that is accompanied by serious symptoms such as fever, abrupt swelling of the faces, lips or tongue and loss of consciousness might be due to a serious infection or anaphylaxis.

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