The Top Ten Causes for Swollen Foot Pain and Treatment Options

It can be quite challenging to carry on with your daily routine if you have swollen feet! The saddest part is that sometimes you don’t even have to be involved in high-impact activities to develop swollen feet.

Many conditions can cause your feet to swell. For example, something as simple as just gravity can pull down fluid into your feet, causing swelling.

But given that there are so many causes of swollen foot pain, it’s important to have a deeper understanding of this condition before arriving at a final conclusion.

The first thing you’re probably wondering is what causes this kind of pain?

That question begins the first part of our discussion:

What Causes Swollen Foot Pain?

There are several possible causes of pain caused by swollen feet, but these are the most common.

Foot Infection

Foot infection is common among diabetic individuals. It may start with feet blisters or sores and gradually progress to something more serious and painful. This explains why diabetic individuals are advised to have their feet checked by a foot doctor regularly.

Foot Injury

Foot injury can result in the tearing of the flexible tissue around your ankle. In addition, if you have a sprained ankle or foot injury, it might lead to swelling as part of the healing process.

This type of foot pain can easily be treated at home using ice packs, wrapping the foot with a bandage, resting, or other home treatment remedies. However, it’s advisable to consult a foot doctor if the foot swelling continues for weeks without much signs of improvement.


Lymphedema involves swelling of the arm or leg because of a blockage in the lymphatic system. It’s most common in cancer patients, given that certain treatments for cancer damage lymph nodes.

People with treatment procedures that involve the removal of lymph nodes might also suffer from lymphedema.

The most common treatment for lymphedema is pneumatic compression. This procedure requires an individual to wear a sleeve over the affected leg.

Air is then pumped into the sleeve to add pressure to the leg and help with fluid movement from the affected leg.

If you’re a cancer patient or have undergone cancer treatment and the foot pain won’t go away, it might be time to consult a foot doctor.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Chronic Venous Insufficiency is when vein valves in the leg fail to allow blood to flow back to the heart. Instead, the blood flows backward and accumulates in your leg leading to swelling.

The leading causes of chronic venous insufficiency include:

  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Aging
  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Sitting or standing for a long time
  • Smoking

Symptoms may include:

  • Varicose veins
  • Skin color changes on the leg
  • Itchiness
  • Foot pain

This condition may lead to open sores on your legs if it remains untreated. For this reason, it’s advisable to consult a doctor immediately if you exhibit any symptoms of CVI.


Swollen foot during pregnancy is not usually a cause for concern. This is because a pregnant woman’s body holds more water which moves down her feet due to gravity and swells even more if they stand for a long time.

This swelling might not be as painful but can worsen at the end of the day, causing discomfort.

However, if the swelling is extreme and painful, it’s advisable to have a doctor check it out. This is because such painful swelling in pregnant women could be due to preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia or toxemia is a condition in pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine.

This condition usually appears late in pregnancy (usually after 20 weeks) and can cause swelling in the feet, ankles, and hands. If untreated, it can lead to liver and kidney damage.

Organ Failure

A swollen foot can be a sign of severe organ failure. Here are three common signs of organ failure look out for:

Heart Failure

Swelling of the ankle because of salt and water retention can be an indication of heart failure. When your heart doesn’t pump blood as it should, it may lead to a swollen foot and other symptoms such as unusual heart rhythm and breathing complications.

Kidney Disease

The swelling of the ankle and foot because of fluid build-up can be a sign of kidney disease. This happens when the kidney fails to filter your blood because of diabetes or high blood pressure, leaving too much salt or sodium in your blood. As a result, your body holds more water, causing swelling in your feet and ankles.

Liver Disease

Swelling of the foot because of inadequate albumin production can be a sign of liver disease. This mostly happens to heavy drinkers or individuals who have hepatitis.

Swollen foot resulting from organ disease is dangerous because the fluid can build up and accumulate in the chest and abdomen.

Some symptoms of a swollen foot caused by organ disease include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Appetite loss

Please seek urgent medical attention if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above.

Medication Side Effects

Some medications cause swelling in the feet as one of their side effects. These include but are not limited to:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Some blood pressure medications
  • Steroids such as anabolic steroids and corticosteroids
  • Antidepressants such as nortriptyline, amitriptyline, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • Diabetes medications

Treatment Options

Most treatment options for this type can be done at home. You’ll only need to consult a professional foot doctor if the swelling and pain go beyond normal levels.

Examples include:


Wear special extra tight socks that help push fluid away from the affected foot.


Elevate the affected foot to a position that helps move the fluid, causing swelling away from the leg.


Place ice cubes on the affected leg to ease pain and accelerate the recovery process.


Move around to make it harder for the fluid to accumulate in one area, which speeds up the healing process.

The Bottom Line

Swollen foot pain may indicate a serious health condition or something as simple as the accumulation of fluids in the foot, especially during pregnancy.

For this reason, it’s advisable to have the foot checked by a medical doctor if you feel the pain and swelling are beyond normal levels.

Depending on the root cause of the problem, your doctor might prescribe certain medications or recommend home-based treatment options.

Not sure when to see a foot doctor? Click here to learn more!