Swollen feet is a common problem that anyone can suffer from. It is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom of an underlying issue. Usually, this problem arises when fluid accumulates in the tissues, leading to swelling known as edema.
This can occur for several reasons, such as being overweight, standing or sitting for long periods of time, aging, pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), nutritional deficiencies, lack of physical exercise and poor blood circulation.
An injury or surgery involving the leg, ankle or a foot can also cause swelling in your feet.
People who have diabetes, heart problems, kidney or liver disease, and pregnant women are more prone to this problem.
As the swelling increases, it can cause general discomfort and people may find it difficult to walk or stand. Other symptoms may include pain, inflammation and redness in the feet.
Luckily, there are plenty of effective tips and remedies to treat swollen feet at home, so you can get back out and enjoy the world.
However, if the swelling is painful or occurs often, consult your doctor. It can be a sign of heart, kidney or liver problems that may need timely treatment.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for swollen feet.
1. Contrast Hydrotherapy
This type of hydrotherapy, which includes both cold and warm water, is highly effective for reducing swelling in your feet. While the warm water helps improve circulation, cold water helps reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Fill 2 foot tubs– one with cold water and the other with warm water.
- Soak your feet in the warm water for about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Immediately put your feet in the cold water for about 1 minute.
- Continue alternating for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Repeat a few times daily until you get relief.
A foot massage is one of the best remedies for swollen feet. It creates pressure on the affected area that helps relax sore muscles and improve circulation. It also encourages excess fluid drainage to reduce swelling.
- Rub some warm mustard oil or olive oil on the affected area.
- Gently massage the area for 5 minutes in an upward direction, rather than downward. Avoid applying too much pressure.
- Do this several times a day.
It is most effective to massage your feet during or after taking a bath.
Ginger is a natural diuretic that helps treat swollen feet. It helps dilute sodium, a major contributing factor behind swelling. In addition, its anti-inflammatory property helps reduce swelling.
- Massage your swollen feet with ginger oil when massaging a few times daily.
- You can also drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea or chew some raw ginger slices.
The diuretic property of dandelion helps the body metabolize extra fluids, making it a great remedy for swollen feet. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, dandelion has a diuretic effect that helps treat water retention.
It also helps regulate the sodium level in the body.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of fresh or dried dandelion leaves in a cup of hot water. Cover, steep for 5 minutes and strain it. Drink this herbal tea 2 or 3 times a day.
- You can also take dandelion tincture or supplements, but only after consulting a doctor.
5. Lemon Water
Drinking lemon water helps flush out excess fluid and toxins from your body, which can reduce swelling in the feet and other areas of the body caused by water retention. In addition, it helps keep the body hydrated and provides anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a cup of warm water.
- Sweeten it with a little raw honey.
- Drink this lemon water a few times daily.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar also helps reduce swelling in your feet. Its high potassium content helps reduce fluid retention, a common cause of swelling in the feet.
- Mix equal amounts of warm water and raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Soak a towel in the solution, wring out the excess liquid and then wrap the towel around your swollen feet. Do this for 10 minutes, a few times daily.
- Also, add 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. Add some raw honey and drink it twice daily.
7. Coriander Seeds
A popular Ayurvedic treatment for swollen feet is coriander seeds. The anti-inflammatory property of these seeds helps reduce swelling as well as improve circulation.
- Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of coriander seeds to 1 cup of water.
- Boil it until the quantity reduces by half.
- Strain the solution, let it cool slightly and drink it.
- Repeat 2 times a day until you get relief.
Regular physical exercise is important for preventing swelling in your feet. Exercise stimulates circulation and prevents blood from pooling in your lower extremities.
- Swimming is one of the best exercises you can do to lessen swelling and relieve inflammation and pain.
- Enjoy 30 minutes of walking or jogging, at least 5 days a week.
- Do some leg strengthening and stretching exercises.
- Do some yoga daily to help improve your circulation.
Magnesium deficiency in the body can also contribute to swelling in the feet due to edema. Eat foods rich in magnesium to help fight this problem.
- Eat magnesium-rich foods like dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, soybeans, avocado, bananas and dark chocolate.
- You can also take magnesium supplements, but only after consulting your doctor.
- To reduce swelling, elevate your legs so that they are above the level of heart.
- Limit your salt and caffeine intake, as they are common causes of foot swelling.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned versions, which often contain added salt for preservation.
- Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and promote detoxification.
- Avoid sitting for long hours. Take short breaks and walk around a bit.
- During long journeys in a car, plane, bus or train, consider wearing compression socks to prevent foot inflammation.
Expert Answers (Q&A)
Answered by Dr. Hai-En Peng (Podiatrist)
Can swollen feet be caused by a condition other than water retention?
Yes it can. It can be due to a diagnosis called lymphedema or it can be due to heart issue or an injury to the feet. A visit to the podiatrist is must to see what could cause it.
Are swollen feet a dangerous condition?
It can be a sign of another more pressing medical issue like a heart problem which can be dangerous. Swollen feet themselves are not necessarily dangerous.
Can swollen feet be a sign of congestive heart failure?
Yes. It is very important to get in touch with your cardiologist if your feet suddenly swell up.
Should one be concerned about swollen feet during pregnancy?
No. It is a very normal and common in pregnant woman and will resolve once the baby is born.
Can an Epsom salt soak help reduce the swelling in the feet?
It can but not as significantly as compression stockings. The soaks can be very pain relieving for the swelling of the feet.
Will a foot massage be beneficial when dealing with swollen feet?
Yes it can be. It can help the fluid go back up the leg, as well as, relieve the discomfort from swollen feet.
Please provide some tips for taking care of swollen feet for the benefit of our readers.
The key here is to determine why the swelling happened in the first place. If it was an injury, then visit a podiatrist. If it isn’t an injury that is causing the swollen feet, still visit your podiatrist to see if there are other reasons behind the swelling so that you can be referred to another specialist. Sudden swelling in the feet is not normal and should be checked out and taken care of.
About Dr. Hai-En Peng, Podiatrist: Dr. Peng was born in Nyack, NY and went to California College of Podiatric Medicine in San Francisco, CA. He spent the next 4 years there and graduated in the top 15% of his class. Dr. Peng also completed a 3-year advanced surgical residency in reconstructive foot and ankle surgery.