Edema: Why Your Feet Are Puffy

Swollen, puffy, bloated: all of these words conjure up some unsightly mental images. When an object is swollen, you know it’s abnormally full of something. Edema is the medical term for swelling in your body. It means that excess fluid is trapped in your tissues. Swollen feet and ankles are unpleasant in their own right, but they can also be a symptom of larger problems.

Puffy Feet and Ankles

Are your swollen feet a sign of EdemaEdema in the feet and ankles is actually fairly common, and it isn’t always serious. It develops when the tiny blood vessels in an area leak some fluid into the tissues. While this can happen anywhere, gravity’s pull means the fluid often collects in your feet and ankles.

This is particularly common when the lower limbs are under some kind of pressure for an extended period of time—like spending too long sitting or standing without moving around. It’s also common when you gain weight. Women who are pregnant and people struggling with obesity are prone to swelling in their lower limbs. Even eating too much salty foot could cause lower limb swelling in some people. In these cases, you may notice some discomfort, particularly from wearing shoes, but the condition is rarely very painful on its own.

 Edema could also be a symptom of an injury. Many injuries cause fluids to collect around the damage, painfully swelling the area. This is particularly common with sprains and fractures. In these cases, the puffiness is generally more uncomfortable and sensitive to the touch.

When It’s Cause for Concern

In the vast majority of cases, swelling isn’t serious. It can be uncomfortable, but it can easily be dealt with at home, or by addressing any injuries that caused it. Sometimes, however, edema is related to a serious health problem that will need more invested treatment.

Weakness in your veins can allow significant amounts of fluid in your lower limbs to leak and pool. This is often a problem with varicose veins. Worse, sudden swelling could even indicate a blood clot in your leg that needs prompt treatment. Persistent edema accompanied by shortness of breath could be a sign of heart trouble. Kidney damage can cause swollen feet as well. In pregnant women, sudden edema in the ankles might be a sign of preeclampsia.

What to Do for Swollen Feet

The best way to treat swelling in your feet and ankles is to both alleviate the edema and address any underlying problems. Our team at Podiatry Associates, P.C. can help you determine why you’re struggling with swollen feet, and the best way to handle the problem. If the underlying condition is serious, we’ll take steps to make sure you get the immediate care you need.

For general swelling, though, eliminating the edema isn’t hard. Elevate your feet so they are, at the very least, parallel to the ground when you’re sitting. This helps counteract gravity pulling fluid down into your lower limbs. Wearing compression socks or a special wrap can prevent fluid from leaking and squeeze it back into your lymphatic system. Exercise periodically to boost your circulation, alleviating leakage and pooling fluid. Try limiting your salt intake, too.

Edema can be unpleasant at the best of times, and signal serious health issues at the worst. If you’re concerned about reoccurring or persistent swelling in your feet or ankles, know you don’t have to live with it—and you shouldn’t. Let our team at Podiatry Associates, P.C. help you eliminate swelling and keep your feet and ankles feeling their best. Contact us for more information or an appointment by calling (303) 805-5156 to reach any of our three locations in Castle Pines, Cherry Creek in Denver, or Parker, CO. You can also use our online request forms.

Dr. Cynthia Oberholtzer-Classen, DPM
Founder and Owner of Podiatry Associates, PC