Do you suffer from swollen feet? If yes, you also need to know other symptoms along with swelling in your feet, just to know the causes and exact remedies for your kind of swollen feet. Usually there is only general discomfort along with inflammation in your feet which might make it difficult for you to walk or stand. Sometimes, however, other symptoms may include pain, inflammation and redness in the feet. Let’s explore what is swollen feet and what are the causes of swollen feet.
What is Swollen Feet
There is nothing much to explain about it generally because the term, ‘swollen’, in most of such conditions, describes increase in the size of feet due to fluid retention in the tissues. Generally, swollen feet and in some cases swollen ankles too, are a symptom of certain underlying issue which may not be a major cause for concern. However, in some instances, swollen feet might need immediate medical attention. Medically, this condition of swollen feet is known as foot edema. Sometimes, fluids is not the cause but increased inflammatory cells are behind your swollen feet.
Causes of Swollen Feet
These are some common causes of swollen feet.
Long durations of Sitting
When you stay in one position for long periods, you can get swollen feet. When you move around, you prevent the fluid from building up in your leg or feet area. Moving pumps the fluid into the circulation. Whenever you sit for long duration like traveling or watching movie, due to gravity, fluid in your body naturally travels down to your feet. To avoid feet swelling due to this cause, get up and walk around after every half and hour or so. You may also move your feet up and down while sitting so that the fluid doesn’t build up there.
Injury to your feet can lead to swelling. However, this swelling sometimes develop immediately after you get the injury or it may be delayed. If there is bleeding into the joint, you will get an immediate swollen feet and ankle along with bruising. This may indicate ligament tear or bone fracture, both of which require immediate medical attention. Sometimes, you won’t get immediate swelling but the inflammation occurs after a few hours or even a few days of injury. This is due to an increase in synovial fluid in this injured area. Certain conditions like mild ligament sprain may cause the joint to produce excessive synovial fluid which can be used to heal the feet faster.
If you are a pregnant woman, you can get swollen feet due to the excess weight you gain during pregnancy. This extra weight puts lots of pressure on your legs and feet which results into swollen feet. Sometimes, the expansion of uterus can also put pressure on your blood vessels of the legs leading to swollen feet. There is one more reason why your feet swell in pregnancy. This is due to the hormones that are secreted in your body during pregnancy that cause your body to retain fluids. If, however, you see severe or extraordinary swelling in feet, you should immediately contact your doctor as this can be a sign of pre-eclampsia, a medical emergency.
Veins pump your blood back up from the feet and legs towards your heart using one-way valves. If these valves become weak or damaged, they can’t do their work properly. This makes the fluid go back down towards the feet and cause swollen feet and ankles.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
When a blood clot forms in one of the major vessels, it is called deep vein thrombosis. It causes pain, redness and swelling in your calf and surrounding areas. The pain gets worse when you pull your toes up towards yourself. Deep vein thrombosis occur usually after severe injuries, prolonged inactivity, surgery or some medical conditions like heart and lung disease. It needs immediate medical attention.
Many diseases too cause swollen feet. Some of such diseases are heart and kidney problems, liver diseases and arthritis etc. While heart, kidney and liver diseases give you swollen feet due to fluid retention in the body, swollen feet due to arthritis is caused by inflammation of the membrane which lines the joint.
Medicines and their side effects
Many medicines cause fluid retention in the body. If you are regularly taking these drugs, expect to have swollen feet and ankles. Some such medicines include steroids and NSAIDs, contraceptives, antidepressants, diabetes medicines, blood pressure medications, etc.
Cellulitis – Bacterial Infection
When a bacteria enters your body through a break in your skin, you catch the infection, cellulitis. This infection commonly affects your lower legs or face. Thus, you get red, hot and swollen feet, legs or face. Treatment of cellulitis is done using antibiotics.
There are certain other causes for swollen feet like obesity, walking or standing for longer durations, menstruation in women. The good news is that, in most of the cases of swollen feet, you can get rid of it with the help of home remedies. Only those cases where it is due to certain medical conditions, you need to seek immediate medical attention.
Home Remedies for Swollen Feet
Epsom Salt Foot Soak for Swelling
Epsom salt is one of the best remedies for swollen feet. It not only treats swelling but also alleviates pain and discomfort in your feet. Magnesium sulfate present in Epsom salt gets easily absorbed and improve blood circulation which reduces fluid build up and helps you get rid of swollen feet. You just need to soak your feet in some warm water mixed with Epsom salt
- Epsom salt- 1/2 cup
- Warm water
- Foot bath
- Fill the foot bath with warm water.
- Add Epsom salt to this.
- Soak your swollen feet in this water for 10-20 minutes.
- You may either do this daily or 2-3 times a week, depending upon the severity of your swollen feet.
- This remedy works best if your feet is swollen due to tiredness or prolonged sitting as well as due to standing or walking for a long time.
Contrast Hydrotherapy Relaxes Swollen Feet
Contrast hydrotherapy refers to the exercising of tissues using quick changes in temperature. This is the best thing to do when your feet gets swollen due to injury. You need to use both warm water and cold water to reduce the swelling of feet in this therapy. Cold water reduces swelling and inflammation and warm water promotes healthy blood circulation.
- Cold water
- Warm water
- Foot bath- 2
- Fill one of the foot baths with with cold water and the other with warm water.
- Now first soak your feet in the warm water for 2-4 minutes.
- Pull out the feet from warm water and immediately soak it in the tub filled with cold water, only for a minute.
- Again soak feet in warm water for about 2-4 minutes, and then in cold water for 1 minute.
- Keep doing this for about 20 minutes.
- Repeat 3-4 times daily to get relief from swollen feet and associated discomforts.
Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Swollen Feet
Apple cider vinegar is used in innumerable home remedies for various medical conditions. This is one of the liquids that is loaded with various nutrients including potassium, pectin, malic acid, calcium, acetic acid and ash. Why is apple cider vinegar good for relieving feet swelling is because of its potassium content. Many studies have shown that potassium deficiency can lead to edema. When your body lacks potassium, water starts filling into the cells and lead to swelling in different parts of your body, including feet. There are many ways to use apple cider vinegar for swollen feet.
Ways to use apple cider vinegar for feet edema
- Drink it. Mix 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and have it 1-2 times a day.
- Wrap your feet. Mix equal quantities of water and apple cider vinegar. Soak a towel or a wash cloth in this. Wring out the excess water. Wrap the cloth around your swollen feet for about 10-15 minutes.
- Soak feet. Add 1-2 cups of apple cider vinegar in a foot bath filled with warm water. Soak your feet in this for about 15-10 minutes.
Lymph Massage Therapy for your Swollen Feet
Lymph system in our bodies help collect and eliminate waist through proper circulation. However, when this lymph circulation is not up to the mark, excess fluids build up, especially in the lower parts of the body including feet due to gravitational force. Waste byproducts also build up in the body which further facilitates fluid retention leading to swelling. To improve the poor lymph circulation, give your legs and feet a good lymphatic massage.
How to do Lymph Massage?
- Massage your legs using your fingers.
- Start massaging from your ankles and work upwards towards your knees.
- Do this gently and don’t put too much pressure while massaging the area, especially at the back of your knees. It is a sensitive area because here is where the lymph nodes accumulate. Apply pressure very lightly in this area.
- Also massage the area around the kneecap. You may have swelling in this area too.
- Massage both of your legs this way for about 10-15 minutes.
- If you want to make this lymph massage more effective, do this when your blood circulation is at its best, like when you have just taken a bath.
Lymph Drainage Exercises
It’s not only the lymph massage that can help relieve swollen feet. Even exercises can help in lymph drainage. These exercise work against the gravitational pull which leads to fluid retention in your lower body parts such as feet and ankles. It is as simple as raising your feet.
How to do Lymph Drainage Exercise?
- You may do this exercise while lying on the floor. If needed, use a mat and lie down on it.
- Lie on your back, facing up.
- Raise your arms and legs up in the air, at 90 degrees or as far as possible.
- Now shake your raised hands and legs as if you are dancing or shaking off water to dry your hands and legs.
- Preferably do this exercise before you go to sleep.
Other Exercises for Swollen Feet
Not only the lymph drainage exercises, there are many other exercises that can reduce swelling in your feet by improving blood circulation. The circulation improves due to the range of motion in your feet when you do these exercises.
Point and Flex your Feet
- Sit on the floor
- Keep your back straight and arms at your sides
- Extend a leg out, away from your body.
- Also extend your toes in forward direction, away from your body. Pull it as far as you can.
- Now, from this position, you need to bend your foot backwards and point your toes upwards to the ceiling. Your heel stay away from your body.
- Hold this position for about 10 counts.
- Relax and repeat, with other leg and toe.
- Repeat with both the legs for 3-5 times.
ABC Foot Stretch
This is also a pointing and flexing exercise where you write letters of the alphabet in the air with your feet. While doing so, make the motions as big as possible.
- Sit down in a chair
- Keep your back straight
- Your feet should lay flat on the floor
- Keep your hands on your upper thighs
- Now stretch your right leg out to make it parallel with the ground.
- While holding this position, rotate your ankle as if you are writing the letter “A” in the air.
- Now write B, then C and so on
- Repeat with your left leg
Squeeze Your Toes
This is a leg and feet strengthening exercise and it improves your circulation. Get some cotton balls or similar soft object like a piece of cloth or small corks or cigarette filters, just similar to the size of a cotton ball.
- Place a cotton ball or other object you are using, in between each one of your toes.
- Once you plug cotton balls between all your toes, squeeze the toes.
- While doing so, keep your abdominal muscles tight and your back straight.
- Squeeze toes and hold the position for five seconds
- Repeat 10 times
Resistance Band Exercise
This exercise has almost similar effect as that of toe squeezing exercise. You will need a thick rubber band or a resistance band.
- Using the band, secure both of your big toes together.
- While sitting down on the floor, stretch your legs
- Keep your arms at your sides.
- Now pull your feet away from each other
- You will feel the resistance of the rubber band when you try to take the feet apart.
- Hold the position for five seconds
- Repeat 10 times.
Massage with Essential Oils to get rid of Swollen Feet
Oil massage is relaxing and it is a good remedy for swellings in your body parts. However, you should consult your doctor about any contradictory effects of massage on your foot condition. If it is all right to do so, use some essential oils to massage your inflamed feet. Before knowing what essential oils you can use, first lets see how to do massage with oils for swollen feet.
- Always use a carrier oil for essential oils. This can be coconut oil, mustard, sesame, olive, almond or any other such oils.
- Mix only a few drops, 2-3 drops, of essential oil with the carrier oil.
- Apply the oil mixture to your feet and massage gently with upward strokes as you do in lymphatic drainage massage which we have discussed earlier in this article.
Essential oils that can be used for swollen feet massage
It has a component called azulene having anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, it is good for swollen feet remedy. It is one among a few essential oils that can be directly used on skin without carrier oil.
- Massage your feet with 1-2 drops of chamomile oil
- You can also mix 1-2 drops of this oil with water and then soak a cloth in it. Then use it as a compress for your swollen feet.
Lavender oil is soothing not only to your nerves but also to your muscles and tissue.
- Fill a foot bath tub with warm water. Use cold water in summers or if you are pregnant.
- Add 2-3 drops of lavender oil to the water.
- Soak your feet in this water for 5-10 minutes.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is not only anti-microbial but also an anti-inflammatory oil. Therefore, you can use it for swollen feet remedy.
- Mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil in 3-4 tbsp of water or carrier oil
- Massage your swollen feet with this.
In fact, you can even use warm mustard or sesame oil to massage your feet without using any essential oil. This is also quite effective in reducing the swelling in your feet.
Acupressure for Swollen Feet
Chinese method of applying pressure to particular points in order to heal the body has been popular in other parts of the world too. As such, you might not be ignorant of acupressure. The nerves in our body are connected with each other. Also, the nerve endings are present in our feet and palms. If you exactly know on which point to put pressure to cure the swelling in your feet, nothing will be easier than this. You just need to use your fingers to put pressure on these acupressure points. There are at least four pressure points in our bodies that can help cure swollen feet.
Acupressure points for Swollen Feet
- Weizhong (BL-40) – It is situated in the middle of the depression in the back of your knee
- Heyong (BL-55) – It is situated in the lower half of the depression above your calve muscle
- Chengjin (BL-56) – It is situated in the middle of your calf muscle
- Chengshan (BL-57)- It is situated in the lower part of your calf muscle
How to put pressure on acupressure points for swollen feet
- Sit down in a chair
- Now use your fingers to apply pressure to your points for swollen feet as mentioned above.
- Apply pressure in order of the points, starting with BL40 then going to BL-55, then BL-56 before ending at BL57.
- At every point, exhale while applying pressure, just for 3 seconds and then release the point while inhaling.
- This will take less than a minute to apply pressure on all the acupressure points related to swollen feet.
Diet Remedies for Swollen Feet
Diet is the most important part of home treatment, for any medical condition, including swollen feet. As you now know that fluid retention leads to swollen feet in most of the cases, your diet should not include foods that promote such retention. Additionally, you should include those foods in your diet that eliminates fluid and other waste from your body, those that detoxify your body. Have less of salt and more of potassium rich foods.
- Cut back on salt consumption. It promotes water retention.
- Avoid having sugar and sugary foods. It also promotes water retention in your body.
- Eat potassium rich foods like raw parsley, raw spinach, avocado, sweet potatoes, garlic chives, mushrooms, tuna, chicken, pork and bananas.
- Have more fruits and raw vegetables.
- Cut back on starch loaded foods like breads, pizzas, pasta, muffins, bagels, rolls etc.
Other Tips to get rid of Swollen Feet
- Place a pillow under your feet before you go to sleep. Elevated feet is a good posture that doesn’t let fluid accumulate in your lower body parts. Swollen ankles and feet should be held above the level of the heart.
- Avoid standing for longer periods. This also leads to fluid accumulation in your feet.
- Don’t keep sitting for long periods. Take brief breaks frequently while you sit for working in front of your computer.
- While traveling, you may wear compression socks so that blood doesn’t pool in your legs due to long sitting hours. These socks also prevent varicose veins
- Drink plenty of water during the day. Lack of water causes your body to retain whatever fluid is available in the body. If you regularly supply water to it, body will not retain water and thus you will not get swollen feet too.
- Exercise regularly because it keeps your blood circulation intact and healthy. This prevents the blood from pooling in your legs. This also means that you won’t get swollen feet!