How to Treat Swollen Feet And Ankles

by Doug Hewitt
Movement can help with swollen feet and ankles.

Movement can help with swollen feet and ankles.

Swollen feet and ankles is a condition called peripheral edema, or swelling of the extremities. The swelling is caused by excess fluid in body tissues, and you should contact your physician to check if there is an underlying medical condition that requires treatment, especially if the swelling persists. The swelling of feet and ankles is a common problem, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, especially for older people. Pregnancy can also be a factor in peripheral edema. Due to the effects of gravity, swelling can be particularly noticeable in lower parts of the body.

Items you will need

  • Footstool
  • Stack of books
  • Pillows
  • Support stockings
Step 1

Exercise regularly, particularly if you are overweight. Being overweight is a factor in developing swollen feet and ankles. Additionally, the legs' movements during an exercise program can help pump the excess fluids from them.

Step 2

Elevate your feet. When you are sitting, you can rest your feet on a footstool or ottoman. If you sit at a desk while at work, keep a stack of books or a box under your desk so that you can at least partially elevate your feet. While sleeping, elevate your legs above your heart by using pillows.

Step 3

Wear support stockings or hose. These are available at medical supply stores or drug stores.

Step 4

Consult with your physician about your salt intake. It may be possible that you could adopt a low-salt diet, which may help reduce fluid retention.

Step 5

Sit once in a while if you are standing for an extended period during the day, and stand up and walk if you find yourself sitting for an extended time during the day. The key is not to sit or stand for an extended period of time without movement.

Step 6

Consult with your physician about taking a water pill, which is a diuretic, and can help alleviate the buildup of excess fluids.


  • Protect your swollen feet and ankles from temperature extremes, physical damage and increases in pressure. Skin over tissues that are swollen takes longer to heal.
  • If you are pregnant, try wearing waist-high maternity support stockings.


  • If you are pregnant, don't wear hose or socks that have tight bands around the ankles or calves.

About the Author

Doug Hewitt has been writing for over 20 years and has a Master of Arts from University of North Carolina-Greensboro. He authored the book "The Practical Guide to Weekend Parenting," which includes health and fitness hints for parents. He and his wife, Robin, are coauthors of the "Free College Resource Book."

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/ Images