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It is normal to have some swelling after an injury. But if a large area of swelling occurs within 30 minutes of an injury, the swelling may be a sign of:

  • A more serious injury.
  • Serious bleeding.
  • Tissue damage.

Swelling (edema) in the feet and ankles is common after you have been sitting or standing for a length of time. It is also common during hot or humid weather. Sitting or lying down with your feet propped up often relieves this type of swelling.

  • Mild generalized swelling of the feet and ankles is common in people who have varicose veins. For more information, see the topic Varicose Veins in Related Information.
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling are common in people who have arthritis.
  • Sudden swelling of the big toe joint may be caused by gout.

Swelling is more serious when:

  • Swollen skins turns pale or cool. This may mean the blood supply has been decreased to the swollen area or below it.
  • Swelling develops with signs of infection.
  • Swelling does not get better when you prop your feet up.
  • Swelling develops suddenly or gets worse in the feet or ankles of people who have heart disease, heart failure, liver disease, or kidney disease. Kidney, heart, or circulatory problems may cause ongoing swelling of one or both feet.
  • Feet, hands, or face swell suddenly during pregnancy. This can be a sign of preeclampsia. For more information, see the topic Preeclampsia and High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy in Related Information.

Treatment will depend on the cause of your swelling.


By: Healthwise Staff Current as of: October 1, 2012
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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