Swollen feet are a problem that is very common, it something that is likely to affect all of us at some point in our lives. In most cases, swollen feet are not a sign of anything serious and they should go back to normal fairly quickly. Other times, however, it can be a sign of something more serious and that is what we would like to discuss today.

Swollen feet typically develop due to a build up of fluid within the soft tissues of the foot. This fluid seeps out of the blood vessels and, as a result, water and salt levels will increase. The kidneys will try and resolve this matter by increasing the amount of blood to the area, however, this can lead to further fluid leaking into the area and even more swelling. The lymphatic system should begin its work to remove this fluid, but if it isn’t functioning properly, fluid will continue to build up. This problem does not only affect the feet, it can also be found in the ankles too and the medical name for it is peripheral edema. The swelling can also be caused by inflammation, infection, bleeding and/or lymphedema.

There are a lot of causes of swollen feet and so without an examination, it can be almost impossible to tell which cause you may have. Here is a list of the most common causes of swollen feet and the reasons they cause swelling in the feet.

  • Injuries – ligament tear or bone fracture, typically only affects one foot
  • Liver disease – change in level of hormones and chemicals
  • Kidney problems – if the kidneys are not functioning properly they can not remove fluid and salt effectively, this will lead to a build-up of pressure in the blood vessels and this causes a leak to form
  • Heart problems – hypertensive heart disease and congestive heart failure may cause swollen feet
  • Arthritis – typically associated with rheumatoid arthritis, this will come and go and is likely caused by inflammation of the membrane that lines the joint
  • Gout – high level of uric acid causes crystals to form in joints, this leads to inflammation and swelling
  • Blood clot – clots can block a blood vessel and this can prevent blood from going back up the leg. If a blood clot forms in a major vessel, this is called Deep Vein Thrombosis and it will cause swelling and pain in the calf.
  • Pregnancy – excess weight gain, expanding uterus and pregnancy hormones
  • Medication side-effects – fluid retention is a common side-effect of some medications

The treatments for all of the conditions above are very different and so it would be impossible for us to go into any kind of detail about them here. If you do have swollen feet then the best thing to do is to make an appointment with your GP or a local foot specialist, they will be able to find out the cause of the problem by looking at your medical history and examining the problem area, from there, they can provide you with the treatment you need.