Painless swelling of the feet and ankles is a common problem, particularly among older people. Abnormal buildup of fluid in the ankles, feet, and legs is called peripheral edema.Painless swelling may affect both legs and may include the calves or even the thighs. Because of the effect of gravity, swelling is particularly noticeable in the lower part of the body.

Common Causes

Foot, leg, and ankle swelling is common with the following situations:

  • Prolonged standing
  • Long airplane flights or automobile rides
  • Menstrual periods (for some women)
  • Pregnancy — excessive swelling may be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious condition sometimes called toxemia, which includes high blood pressure and swelling
  • Being overweight
  • Increased age
  • Injury or trauma to your ankle or foot


Swollen legs may be a sign of heart failure, kidney failure, or liver failure. In these conditions, there is too much fluid in the body

Call 1-800-FOOT-DOC right away if:

  • You have decreased urine output.
  • You have a history of liver disease and now have swelling in your legs or abdomen.
  • Your swollen foot or leg is red or warm to the touch.
  • You have a fever.
  • You are pregnant and have more than just mild swelling or have a sudden increase in swelling.


What To Expect At Our Office

We will take a medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination, with special attention to your heart, lungs, abdomen, legs, and feet.

Please be prepared to answer questions like the following:

  • What specific body parts swell? Your ankles, feet, legs? Above the knee or below?
  • Do you have swelling at all times or is it worse in the morning or the evening?
  • What makes your swelling better?
  • What makes your swelling worse?
  • Does the swelling get better when you elevate your legs?
  • What other symptoms do you have?

Diagnostic tests that may be performed include the following:

  • Blood tests such as a CBC or blood chemistry
  • ECG
  • Chest x-ray or extremity x-ray
  • Urinalysis

The specific treatment will be directed at whatever underlying