The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Understanding Ankle & Foot Swelling: When To See A NY Doctor

Posted by on Tuesday, August 5th, 2014


One thing we New York foot doctors find ourselves talking about very often is swelling. Patients are worried about swelling following an injury, swelling during the recovery from surgery, and random swelling for seemingly no real reason at all. “Swelling after an injury or surgery can be quite unpredictable,” explains Dr. Ryan Minara from The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine. “Sometimes swelling can indicate a problem. Other times, the body has healed normally, but swelling can continue for many months. It is important for patients to understand swelling can last longer than we would like.”

foot swelling
Swollen feet and ankles can be a normal part of healing or they could be a cause for concern. Image Source:

Common Causes of Foot Swelling & Ankle Swelling

At its most basic definition, swelling is the buildup of fluids within the tissues and muscles. Occasional bouts of swelling may just be the body responding to acute trauma. However, when it is severe, it can lead to complications like stiffness, pain, tissue scarring, skin ulcers, decreased circulation, increased risk of infection, and difficulty walking.

Common causes of swelling include:

– Injury or trauma, especially overuse injuries like tendonitis, bursitis and strains

– Obesity

– Old age

– Pregnancy

– Too much sodium in the diet

– Consumption of alcohol

– Hot weather

– Sitting or standing for long periods of time


– High altitudes

– Diabetes medications, birth control pills, anti-depressants, steroids, and calcium channel blockers

Home Treatment of Swollen Feet & Ankles

At home, you can elevate your feet 12 inches above your heart, three to four times a day, for 30 minutes at a time. You can wear compression stockings that promote natural circulation. Treating yourself to a massage, exercising, soaking your feet in Epsom salts, following a low-sodium diet, and drinking eight glasses of water a day are all ways to diminish fluid retention. Horse chestnut extract is purported to be a natural remedy for swelling.

When To Have Swelling Checked Out By A Doctor

It is important to have swelling checked out because it could be a symptom of an underlying medical problem such as kidney, heart, or liver failure. Blood clots, leg infection, Thyroid Disease, venous insufficiency, varicose veins, malnutrition, allergic reaction, sodium retention, and lymphatic obstruction are other possible underlying causes for swelling.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for “how long should normal swelling last?” However, you should seek immediate medical attention if:

– The swelling is accompanied by symptoms like pain, fever, redness and warmth

– The swelling is new and sudden

– You have a known problem with your heart, liver or kidneys.

Get Answers To Your Questions About Swelling Ankles & Feet In NYC!

The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine is equipped to answer any questions you may have about swelling. Our in-depth diagnostic testing procedures will be able to identify the hidden cause(s) of your swelling. We can help you manage swollen feet and ankles by instructing you on proper icing and compression techniques, as well as circulation-enhancing exercises. Chronic swelling may be treated with advanced laser therapy. For your convenience, we offer online booking for all appointments with our Manhattan and Westchester sports medicine doctors.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.