Swelling of the Foot and Ankle

Swelling of the lower extremity, foot and ankle is a very commonly encountered condition in our practice. Patients usually present with just swelling or at times pain. One of the most common causes of generalized lower extremity is varicose veins. Varicose veins result from faulty and leaky valves that can not prevent blood from pooling in the veins of the legs due the natural gravitational pull.

Patients who have a history of open heart surgery can also have swelling in their leg. One of the long veins of the legs is harvested during bypass surgery of the heart. This results in swelling of the limb from which the vein was grafted. Another common cause of perimalleolar edema is a common blood pressure medication called Norvasc (amlodipine). Infections can often present as unilateral edema of the affected limb.

One serious, life threatening condition that can present as leg swelling is Deep Vein Thrombosis. This results from a blood clot in one of the leg veins. It is very important to adequately address this condition or this can result in dislodging of the clot that can cause Pulmonary Embolism and death.

Traumatic conditions can lead to localized swelling of the foot and ankle. This is usually accompanied by pain and inflammation of the joint capsule.

Compression therapy and elevation is mainstay in treatment but the cause of the swelling has to be identified and treated adequately. Ankle swelling is common in post traumatic arthritis and patients may need surgery to address the pain and swelling. I usually order venous studies and consult vascular surgery for varicose veins, unexplained swelling and for suspected DVTs. If certain medications are causing the swelling then they may be changed accordingly by your prescribing physician.


There are many factor to lower leg and foot swelling. Schedule a consultation with one of our doctors to discuss yours condition.